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23rd February 2022

Tips for learners driving in adverse weather conditions

With three storms hitting Britain within a few days and more set to follow, the team at Sterling have come up with some timely advice for young, learner and newly qualified drivers on how to stay safe in adverse weather conditions.

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Storms Dudley, Eunice and Franklin have caused chaos on the roads during the past week and, with more storms expected, the team at Sterling have come up with some tips for driving in adverse weather conditions for learners, young drivers and those who are newly qualified. 

Make sure your car can handle bad weather driving

To keep safe in all weathers, you should ensure your car is performing at its optimum level. That means getting it serviced regularly and addressing any warning lights, leaks, damage or faults immediately.

However, driving in bad winter weather will put extra demands on your vehicle. Read our blog to find out how to prepare your car for winter driving

adverse weather

Driving in snow, hail, or icy weather

Before setting out to drive in snow, hail or icy conditions you should consider whether your journey is essential. If the answer is yes, you will need to ensure you and your car are fully prepared for the trip. This is what you need to do before you set out in adverse weather confitions:

  • Plan your journey to avoid any steep hills that may become dangerous during adverse weather. Give yourself more time than usual to make the journey. 
  • Next, clear any snow or ice from the windows, roof, headlamps, rear light clusters and number plates. De-mist mirrors and windows thoroughly. 
  • Check the pressure of your tyres and the tyre tread depths to ensure you have maximum grip. 
  • In extreme conditions there is an increased risk of becoming stranded by drifts or compacted snow. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to pack a torch, de-icer, ice scraper, first aid kit, outdoor clothing, boots, a shovel and jump leads. You might also appreciate a hot drink if you become stranded so consider taking a flask of tea, coffee or soup. 

Once you set out in adverse weather conditions, drive with the utmost care, keeping a greater distance than normal between you and the car in front as your stopping distances will be greater in snow or ice. Drive at low speeds, indicating manoeuvres early and breaking very gently. Avoid making any sudden manoeuvres.

Even busy roads and roads that have been treated with salt can be very slippery and dangerous.

If you do get into a skid, steer gently into it. For example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the left, steer gently to the left. Keep both hands on the steering wheel at all times.

Driving in heavy rain

Watch your speed and leave plenty of room between you and the car in front. If someone’s driving close behind you, let them pass when it is safe to do so. 

Use dipped beam headlights to ensure you are fully visible to other road users.

Lorries and fast moving vehicles will kick up a lot of spray which may impair visibility. Nowadays even the most basic cars have a number of windscreen wiper speed settings so choose the appropriate speed for the level of rain and spray that is falling. 

Be considerate about your own spray and avoid driving through puddles close to pedestrians or cyclists.

Avoid driving through deep standing water and puddles. Driving through puddles can cause aquaplaning (when your tyres lose contact with the road surface). If your steering suddenly feels light, take your foot off the accelerator and allow your speed to reduce until you feel in control again. 

When you are in control, very gently depress the foot brake pedal to create some friction and heat to evaporate any remaining moisture on discs and drums.

Cars are at greater risk of breaking down in the rain as the damp can cause problems with electrics and engines. If you do break down, keep your bonnet closed to prevent further damage. If you have breakdown insurance, call your provider, if you don’t, call us for instant breakdown cover and we can help you immediately.

Driving in strong gusting winds

Be careful when opening the car door. Grip the handle firmly because if a gust catches the door it could wrench it out of your hand, fling it wide open and damage the hinges. 

Even experienced drivers can get blown off course by strong gusts of wind. When driving in gales keep both hands on the steering wheel — releasing it only to change gear — proceed with caution and reduce your speed. Extra care should be taken if you are driving near high-sided vehicles or motorcycles, or traversing bridges and exposed stretches of road.

Look out for tree branches, street furniture, road signs, and other falling debris which may block the road ahead. 

adverse weather

Driving in fog

When driving through fog, slow down, use your lights and give the  vehicle in front plenty of space. If you have fog lights, use them, but remember they can dazzle oncoming traffic so use them sensibly.

You may need to use de-misters and windscreen wipers to clear your vision. Check your mirrors and remain alert.

Driving in hot weather

Hot weather can cause road surfaces to soften and even melt and this will affect steering and braking. Rain following a hot spell can lead to slippery surfaces. In both cases extra caution is needed.

Driving in bright sunshine

Bright sunshine can dazzle you, even in the autumn and winter when the sun sits low in the sky. If you are dazzled by the sun or other reflections, reduce your speed. Use your sun visor to shield your eyes but make sure you can see the road ahead and remain safe and within the law. 

Consider investing in bespoke driving glasses. Sunglasses sold for general use can be too dark for driving while “fashion frames” could obscure peripheral vision. Choose your shades carefully.

A warm welcome from Sterling Insurance

Whatever the weather you’ll find a warm welcome from the team at Sterling Insurance. Call 0344 381 9990 for a swift no obligation quote at a price you can afford.

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