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For many new drivers, hitting the road in less than perfect conditions is one of the scariest things. If you passed your driving test in the summer, and have no idea how to deal with snow and ice, it might be a good idea to take an extra course in hazard perception, so you are prepared for the challenges the roads have for you in the winter. However, there are some car safety rules you also have to follow to stay safe and keep others safe, too. Find out more below.
If you have an older car, you will not know when the battery is getting worn out. In the summer, when you hardly used your headlights and your heater, it might have been fine, but when you have to rely on your electrical system, your windscreen and mirror heater, as well as the heater to get rid of the mist and fog, you will certainly use it more. Before you head out on the roads, get a battery test, and replace your car battery for less than it would cost you to get roadside recovery.
You will also need to be prepared for winter driving by being ready to deal with emergencies. You might not be used to breakdowns or being stuck in traffic, maybe road closures, so it is crucial that you know what to do and how to deal with the situation. This will reduce your anxiety and give you the peace of mind that you are still in control. Have a torch, make sure that you have a portable battery and a jump starter, as well as a jack to change the tires.
Fog Light Checks
Image via Air Force Medical Service – AF.mil
We often encounter fog on low ground unexpectedly on the roads. If you don’t know what to do and when it is acceptable to use your fog lights, you might endanger yourself and other road users. Test your fog lights and make sure you can locate the switch when you need to. If you slow down because you cannot see, pay attention to the traffic behind and always use your brakes, so they can see your brake lights and react on time.
New drivers often make a mistake by relying on what their cars are equipped with. As you are using your lights more in the winter, the chances of the bulbs going out are higher. This is why you need to visit your local mechanic and buy a few spare ones to keep in the boot. If you want to make the most out of your visibility in the winter, however, you might also decide to replace the bulbs with brighter and more energy efficient ones that will not need replacing for a few years.
Seals and Moisture
Older cars often suffer from condensation, especially if you don’t use them every day. You will have to get a mechanic to inspect the rubber seals and the fixing of your windscreen, so you can save energy on heating, and reduce condensation in the passenger cabin. Get in touch with an expert at Viking Motors and get a full bodywork check, so you can feel comfortable and safe on the roads.
The main problem you might not expect when hitting the roads in the winter is the low visibility. You don’t only have to be prepared for pedestrians and cyclists without a light and high visibility clothing, but also deal with dirty windscreens and fog. You have to be prepared for low sun in the winter, and ensure that you are not blinded by the light of the oncoming traffic. Unfortunately, not all car drivers are considerate, so you should always be ready to slow down if your visibility is compromised in any way.
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Choosing the appropriate speed for the road temperature and the weather is also crucial. As you have limited experience driving in snow or on wet surface, you might want to avoid overtaking until you are confident that you can maneuver the car safely on various surfaces. Just because other drivers are going faster than you are, you don’t have to risk losing control. However, make sure that you keep up with the speed of the traffic whenever it is possible.
There is one thin surface that gives you a grip on the road, and that is the rubber on your tires. You might not have noticed any wear and tear in the summer, but in the winter you will need more traction. Find out if you need winter tires in the area you live, and get your tires and traction inspected. If you don’t have a tire pressure monitoring system, get it manually checked every couple of weeks.
It is also crucial that you get your car’s electrical system tested. This will help you keep the heating going when you are stuck in a traffic jam and ensure that the connections are working well between your switches and your lights. The cold weather and bad roads can make wires disconnect, which is easy to fix for a professional.
Unfortunately, many new drivers don’t know what the correct following distance is on roads that are wet, icy, or heavily congested. It will be a learning curve until you can make the right judgment. If you stay back too much, you might encourage other drivers to fill the gap between you and the car ahead. If you are following close, you might not be able to stop on time. Generally, your stopping and braking distance on wet and icy roads will be significantly higher than on dry roads. Get your anti lock braking system tested to avoid collisions and make the most out of your brakes.
New drivers often dread going out in bad weather. It might be a good idea to take on an extra lesson or two if you lack confidence. Be prepared for emergencies and know what you are supposed to do in every situation.