Top tips for winter driving

Posted: 21/02/13

Whether you’re driving your hired van around Doncaster or further afield, there are certain considerations you should give thought to during the winter months. When it comes to snow, ice or wet hazardous conditions, preparation can be the difference between making it to your destination successfully or not.

Here at Exchange Hire Services Ltd, we’ve helped many van hire customers in Doncaster through the winter months so here’s our top tips for winter driving.

Before your journey

Vehicle Maintenance

Whether you plan on driving a car or a van, up to date maintenance is essential to navigate the winter months safely. Ensure the following are well maintained before you think about setting off to your destination:

  • Tyres – the tread depth of your tyres must exceed the legal minimum of 1.6mm however you will want a lot more than that for the winter months for maximum grip
  • Lights – check that all your lights function correctly (headlights, brakes, indicators, number plate bulbs, reverse lights, fog lights)
  • Battery – ensure your battery is in good condition as they can deteriorate quickly during cold weather
  • Windscreen wash – ensure it is kept topped up
  • Windscreen wipers – ensure they’re not split

Of course, when hiring a van with Exchange Hire Services Ltd all our hire vehicles are fully maintained and serviced by our experienced mechanics on and off site so our customers can have total confidence in their hire vehicle.

Check weather updates

Before setting off, check for severe weather warnings. You can keep up-to-date with the weather by checking the BBC News, your phones weather app or more appropriately local news such as the Doncaster Free Press.

Do you have enough fuel?

Winter driving can be unpredictable, so with this in mind it’s sensible to ensure you have more fuel than is needed for a journey.

Defrost / de-snow your vehicle

You must defrost / remove snow from your vehicle before you set off on a journey – that is the law! The majority of modern vans have heated windows and mirrors to help you defrost or demist easily. You can help to prevent snow and ice build up and save time by using a vehicle windshield cover. If not, don’t forget to keep your de-icer / scraper handy!

Familiarise yourself with the vehicle

Don’t just jump in a vehicle and expect to learn the controls as you go – that is not a sensible approach in winter. Winter driving can present many hazards, for example, if fog appears quickly you’ll want to know how to switch on the fog lights without distracting yourself whilst driving. Before setting off, ensure you know how to operate all the lights, indicators, windscreen wiper controls and hazard signals.

Pack essentials

If the weather is forecast to take a turn for the worst we’d recommend packing these essential items regardless of the length of your journey.

  • A fully charged mobile phone and your phone charging cable
  • A car winter kit – de-icer, scraper, high viz jacket
  • Torch with extra batteries
  • Warm clothes & blankets
  • Non-perishable food & water (e.g. energy bars, raisins)
  • A map

During your journey

Re-think your driving techniques

Regardless of your usual driving abilities, you may need to rethink some of your natural driving techniques as driving in wintery conditions can present many challenges. The best advice we can offer to you is to be patient with your own driving and with other road users.

Driving in snow / ice:

  • To avoid wheel spin – accelerate in second gear, keeping your revs low
  • To avoid skidding – avoid sharp turns
  • To avoid breaking suddenly – Use your gears to slow down, cover you break lightly to warn other vehicles behind you that you’re coming to a stop
  • Leave a 10 car length stopping distance between you and the car in front as your braking distance will be increased greatly by the conditions
  • Retain momentum, even at a crawl. Try to avoid stationary starts
  • If you feel the van starting to spin, remove your foot off the accelerator and steer into the skid. Once you are back in control, quickly return your steering wheel to its default position.

Are you thinking about hiring a van in Doncaster? Whether you are moving house or simply need a vehicle to get around in we have a vast range of vehicles to suit your every need all year round.

For van hire in Doncaster: use our online enquiry form or call us on 01302 340000 to book your vehicle today.