Winter driving isn’t always the most wonderful of experiences, especially if you're a nervous driver anyway. Breakdowns are more common in the colder, darker months and road conditions can make safe driving trickier. Unfortunately, the festive season is also when many of us make more journeys, including Christmas shopping trips and visiting relatives.
For our Bayfield teams in Shrewsbury and Telford, winter is also one of our busiest periods. As such we wish to ensure all our customers are safe and prepared, whether you’re travelling in one of our Shropshire hire cars or vans or your own vehicle. If you’re new to winter driving, or even if you’re a seasoned motorist, we can all benefit from a reminder of how to stay safe on the road.
Before you set off
Remember to allow extra time when winter driving. Between de-icing the car and driving more slowly due to bad weather or limited vision, a journey which usually takes half an hour could take twice that time.
If your windows are covered in frost, fully clear them all before you move off by scraping and de-icing – don’t drive with just a tiny gap to peer through. As well as being hazardous to yourself and others, you could be fined for driving with obscured windows. When de-misting the windscreen, start with the heater on cold so you’re not blasting hot, wet air, and gradually increase the temperature.
Servicing your vehicle
It’s a good idea to schedule your car for a service before winter. All of Bayfield's vehicles are under 12 months’ old, some under three, and are regularly serviced between rentals. We believe you should never have concerns about the safety or ability of a Bayfield car or van.
During winter, extra checks include keeping engines topped up with a fifty-fifty mix of antifreeze and water. It only costs a few pounds but a broken engine can cost hundreds to fix.
Other important winter driving checks include making sure tyres have the right pressure and tread, that the brakes are working well and that your battery is fully charged. Although batteries can last around five years, they are pushed much harder during the winter because of headlights, heating and windscreen wipers.
Planning your journey
Keep an eye on weather and traffic before your travel, in case you need to change your route at the last minute. In cases of ice or snow, try and stick to major roads, as those are more likely to be cleared and gritted.
Always let someone know when you’re leaving and when you plan to arrive. Keep your mobile phone fully charged. Even for a small journey to the shops, you never know when you might need to call for breakdown cover or emergency services. We would also advise keeping the tank at least half full in case of any delays or diversions. You may be driving for longer than you think.
Having an in-car mobile phone charger is a good idea, as well as ensuring you have some sunglasses to hand. The low, winter sun may look beautiful on a clear, crisp morning, but it can be dangerous for drivers.
Slow and steady wins the race
Speed limits are designed for good conditions, not for winter driving. Snow, ice, and heavy rain all contribute to longer stopping distances and higher risk of skidding. In these conditions, reduce your speed whilst trying not to manoeuvre sharply. If you can, avoid accelerating or breaking too quickly.
As it can take longer to get from A to B in the winter time, some people do find themselves rushing. We find this is especially common amongst business people, rushing from one appointment to another and not wishing to be late. But your safety, and the safety of your fellow motorists, is top priority; as they say – better late than never.
Wherever you are travelling this winter, do stay safe and drive happy.
If you need a hire car or van in Shropshire this winter, our two depots have an extensive fleet of fully serviced vehicles to choose from. Please call 01743 770035 (Shrewsbury) or 01952 570057 (Telford) to reserve your vehicle, or you can use our easy online booking system