The AOL Cars guide to winter driving


winterTim Ireland/PA Wire

With the winter weather well and truly underway, here at AOL Cars we've been bombarded with driving tips to make the roads a safer place this season.

And with the often-treacherous months of January and February ahead, we've decided to put together a top ten list of the most poignant winter driving tips for your perusal, so that everyone can have safer and more enjoyable car journeys throughout the festive season and beyond.

Do a health check
A general check on the battery, oil, water, de-icer, screenwash and windscreen blades is essential, Check all lights, including fog lights, are working and clean and replace any blown light bulbs.

Tyre happy
Take a close look at the condition of the car's tyres to ensure they have sufficient tread to grip wet and slippery roads – it's also worth considering investing in winter tyres, snow socks or chains.

Do you really need to leave home?
If the weather's caused treacherous road conditions, ask yourself if it's really necessary to go out in the car. Can you walk to the local shop, or even better, use the cold snap as an excuse to relax on the sofa? Try and plan ahead by checking out the weather forecast to help predict when journeys are best avoided.

Create a survival pack
Keep some winter essentials in the car in case you get stuck in cold weather. For example: a torch, windscreen ice-scraper, a shovel, a blanket, boots, some warm clothes, bottled water and snacks. Remember to store your emergency breakdown number.

Ease off the throttle
Slow down in bad conditions to compensate for reduced control; speed limits are set for standard conditions, but in difficult conditions, they can often be too fast. Control skidding by easing off the accelerator and not touching the brakes. Turn in to the skid and don't accelerate until you feel some control return.

winter drivingBen Birchall/PA Wire

Increase braking distance
It's predictable that in poor driving conditions, braking distances are much greater – and visibility is potentially much lower than usual - so leave plenty of space between you and the car in front.

Winter light means it is often harder to see what is going on around you, so be extra vigilant when looking for pedestrians and cyclists as they may be less visible.

Keep to main roads
Rural roads may be quieter, but main roads are more likely to be gritted, so keep to them as much as possible. Also bear in mind that after frost has gone, ice can remain in areas which are shaded by trees or buildings.

Stuck in snow?
If your car gets stuck in snow, use a high gear and gently rock the car back and forth to ease out of the snow – revving the engine in a low gear will just dig the wheels deeper into the snow.

Park strategically
You've managed to get to your destination safely, but what about everyone else on the road? Reduce your risk of being involved in someone else's accident by parking sensibly, preferably on off-road parking, or gritted roads if not.