Driving in Bad Weather: Tips for New Drivers

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Whether you are a new or a seasoned driver, you should avoid driving in bad weather if possible. If you can’t avoid the trip, or the weather comes down when you are already driving, you need to take extra care. Below are some tips for avoiding problems if bad weather kicks in while you are already driving.

One of the things that many experienced drivers do is to carry a bad weather kit, especially once winter has set in. A bad weather kit might include a thermos of tea or coffee, a blanket, a torch, and a spade – you never know when you’ll get caught out, so it’s best to be prepared at this time of year. Make sure that your mobile is fully charged, but don’t use it until you have stopped the car. It’s an offence to use it whilst driving – unless it’s a hands free phone.

Setting Off

If the weather is already bad, or if serious weather is forecast, then the best thing to do is avoid driving. If you have to drive to work and there is little public transport where you live, then it might be worth asking your employer if you can work from home when the weather is especially bad. Always check the weather forecast before you set off, particularly in winter, and if you can, avoid driving if the forecast is bad.
If the weather turns bad when you are already driving, at the very least you should lower your speed and leave a big gap between your vehicle and the one in front – remember that your stopping distance increases in bad weather.

Make Sure Your Car is Roadworthy

Before you set off on any journey, but especially during the winter, check your tyre pressure and your oil and water levels before setting off; you should also check your anti-freeze. Make sure that your card is roadworthy by getting your garage to check it over occasionally in addition to your annual MOT.

Use Your Lights

When the weather is bad, it’s often gloomy. You are more likely to see and be seen in bad weather if you switch on your lights, but keep them dipped where possible, as you don’t want to blind oncoming drivers.

Driving in Ice, Snow or Heavy Rain

If you are driving in icy conditions, or when there is snow on the ground, you should be able to avoid a wheel spin by making sure that you are driving in the highest gear that you can. When slowing down, put your vehicle into a lower gear sooner than you usually do, so that you can use engine braking – gently – and avoid skidding.

If your vehicle skids, avoid braking as this can make the situation worse, but gently ease your foot up on the accelerator. When the weather is very wet, this can also affect steering so again, ease off the accelerator, and if possible move to the side of the road. Heavy rain and the spray from other vehicles can make visibility bad, so try to leave a bigger gap between you and the vehicle in front. Above all, remember to perform any manoeuvres more cautiously than you might do normally.