Road safety charity the IAM is offering weekly motoring tips from Britain’s top advanced driver, Peter Rodger. This week, he is advising on driving on frost and ice.
IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Some bits of the country have already had a first taste of this year’s winter. That means it’s time for the rest of us to start thinking about how to deal with it too.”
Rodger offers six tips to drive confidently in icy conditions:
Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be salted. Also bear in mind that after the frost has gone, ice can remain in areas which are shaded by trees and buildings – and it forms there first, so be careful in the evening as the temperature drops.
It may seem obvious to say – but every year people do forget, so ensure you have de-icer and a scraper. And don’t be one of those people, still out there, who only scrape a small area and drive looking through a slit – clear the whole screen to be able to see properly.
If the road is slippery when you start off, do it in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating gently, avoiding high revs – this will help prevent wheel spin. As you drive, stay in higher gears to help avoid wheelspin. In an automatic be gentle with your feet, and use whatever gearbox
features that the car handbook says will help in slippery conditions.
It seems obvious, but cars go in ditches every winter because drivers haven’t taken icy roads seriously enough. If it’s cold outside treat wet looking patches with great care – they could be ice, not water.
Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front – plan so that you’re not relying on your brakes to stop – on ice they may not do that for you. If it is really slippery slow down early and use the gears to do it.
If your car loses grip and starts to slide sideways, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels where you want to go.
Rodger said: “These are just a few pointers to start you thinking. Being mentally prepared as well as having the right equipment is vital, so think about any problems you encountered last winter, and what you need to do to avoid them or overcome them if they recur this year. Be prepared for the worst – icy conditions will affect accelerating, steering and braking.”