Tips for driving in winter and the snow

19 June 2016
Now that winter has more or less arrived, it’s important to remember that as the mercury drops, the risk of certain car incidents can increase. 

Frosty roads, reduced visibility, and other wintery road conditions can be extremely dangerous for inexperienced or unsuspecting drivers, so it’s important that you’ve got the knowledge required to stay safe on the roads while driving in winter. Here are our winter driving tips to help you ensure winter road safety.



Black ice

One of the more infamous winter driving conditions, black ice is created when condensation or rain freezes on a road, and creates a thin layer of ice which is transparent and subsequently extremely hard to spot. It gets its name from the fact that due to its transparency, it appears black due to the bitumen below it.

Black Ice driving hazards

Driving over black ice at even a moderate speed can prove extremely dangerous, as the slick and icy surface provides almost no traction whatsoever. Not only are acceleration and braking made impossible, but steering also becomes nearly unmanageable.

If you suspect you may have to drive over black ice at some point in the future, the main things to keep in mind for maximum winter road safety are:

  • Drive slowly and carefully.
  • Avoid sudden directional changes and sudden braking.
  • Make sure there’s a larger than normal distance between you and the cars in front of you.
  • While black ice is hard to spot, try to keep an eye out for shiny, wet patches on the road; it may give you early indication of which parts of the road to take caution on.

While braking on black ice is incredibly hard, there are still some basic braking tips that you should definitely follow to minimise your overall road risk.

Foggy or frosted windscreens are a no-no

You may be in a hurry to leave in the morning, but there are a number of things that are important to check before you set out. Driving in winter weather requires good visibility. So if your front or back windscreens are foggy or frosted over, you need to take care of that before you depart, not after.

Windscreens can be defogged by using the demister function that most cars come with; however, if that isn’t enough, opening all the windows and putting the air-conditioner on high (hot or cold) will dehumidify your car pretty quickly. Having all your windows open in the winter cold may not be a lot of fun, but it’s a small price to pay for being able to see out of your car. Winter driving conditions can be rough enough with a see-through windscreen, so don’t make driving in winter harder than it needs to be.

In the case of a frosted over windscreen, simply get a bucket of lukewarm or hot water and pour it over the windscreen(s) in question. Follow that up by turning on your windscreen wipers, which will finish the job for you.

What if your windscreens are foggy or frosted over

Then there are two more things to check in regards to your windscreen before you leave in your car:

  • Check the windscreen wipers. Make sure the blades aren’t worn out, and if they are, replace them asap. The general rule of thumb is to replace the blades either every 6 months or every 10,000km.
  • Make sure the windscreen washer container is filled with water.

Follow those winter driving tips and you should be seeing clearly when it comes to your windscreens.

Check your tyres!

Your tyres are possibly the most important thing to consider if you’re going to be dealing with treacherous winter driving conditions. Make sure your tyres are inflated properly, as low tyre pressure will increase the chances of a blow-out significantly.

The effects of driving in winter weather on tyres

On top of that, driving in winter weather can actually make your tyres flatter due to the air inside them contracting. This article further explains the effects of driving in winter weather on tyres, but the key message here is keep your tyres inflated!

Make sure you’re not driving on worn tyres; not only is it a safety risk, but it can void your car insurance entirely.

As long as you’re vigilant and diligent before you hit the road in the colder months, you should have no problems with winter road safety. But even the safest driver still needs car insurance; why not start your search for the perfect car insurance policy with Canstar?


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