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News: Winter Driving Conditions

Caution: News

Winter Driving Conditions

Last updated
11 May 2022 4:25pm

Now that winter is fast approaching we can expect more occurrences of frosty mornings, black ice, fog, and sunstrike all of which will make conditions on the road more dangerous. 

Frost can affect you no matter how you are travelling - driving, motorcycle, bus, cycle, scootering or walking, people should take special care on bridges, shaded areas where there are trees overhanging, cycle lanes and footpaths and be aware that black ice is especially treacherous because it’s hard to see.

Fog can reduce your visibility making it hard to see what is happening ahead of you. 

Sunstrike can occur at any time during the day but is most likely during sunrise or sunset when the sun’s rays are at a low angle. This can make it difficult, or even impossible, to see. This is a very dangerous condition to drive in.

To avoid a crash, check out these key tips below:

Key tips for driving in frosty conditions:

  • Make sure you don’t head off until you can see clearly out of both windscreens, all your windows, and your rear and side-view mirrors, take a few extra minutes for your demister to do its job and the heater to warm the car.

  • Consider using anti-fog products to clean the inside, and get rid of that annoying film that can build up and make mist/condensation worse.

  • Make sure your wiper blades are in good condition and check your washer fluid at the same time.

  • Drive slower than you normally would – it only takes a split second to lose control in wet or icy conditions.

  • Avoid sudden braking or turning that could cause you to skid. Accelerate smoothly and brake gently, and use your highest gear when travelling uphill and your lowest downhill.

  • Drive at a safe travelling distance because it takes longer to stop on slippery roads. In winter, especially in poor weather, double the two-second rule to ensure a safe distance between you and the car in front.

  • Avoid towing in icy conditions.

  • Allow more time for your journey, as you cannot safely maintain the sort of speeds you may normally travel at.

 Key tips for driving in fog:

  • In fog, turn on your headlights, not your parking lights

Drivers should also:

  • Adjust your speed so you have clear visibility of the road at all times

  • Keep your headlamps on dipped (low beam), high beam will reflect off the fog and produce glare, further reducing visibility

  • Only use fog lamps when visibility is severely reduced (e.g. by snow or fog). It is illegal to use fog lamps in clear conditions (day or night) as they reduce the visibility of other drivers

  • Keep a generous following distance between you and the car in front.

Cyclists should:

  • Be prepared with working lights on your bicycle so you can be seen.
  • Bike lights in flashing mode are more noticeable and use less battery power.
  • Reflectors, reflective strips, reflective bag covers and reflective ankle bands can help you be more visible.
  • Consider wearing brightly coloured clothing or high visibility accessories.

Key tips for reducing the danger of sunstrike:

  • Be prepared for possible sunstrike when driving or riding at sunrise or sunset, especially when turning or travelling towards the sun

  • Keep your windscreen or visor clean, inside and out before you set off, as dust and grime on the windscreen can make the effects of sunstrike much worse

  • Consider using anti-fog products to clean the inside, and get rid of that annoying film that can build up and make mist/condensation worse

  • Be especially careful in winter, when sunstrike is more likely to occur because the sun is lower in the sky

  • Wear sunglasses when driving or riding with the sun in your eyes

  • Use your car's sun visors to block the sun

  • If you experience sunstrike, it may be best to pull over and wait for a few minutes until your eyes adjust or visibility improves

  • Be careful if snow has fallen and the sky is clear - sunlight shining on snow can cause 'snow blindness', which produces similar effects to sunstrike

  • Take extra care at intersections when the sun is low - even if it is at your back, as it may be affecting the visibility of other road users.