Safe driving over the winter period

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Car maintenance and drink driving are both huge problems at this time of year. Vehicles require additional care and preparation during winter if you're to stay safe and avoid an accident or breakdown. Road conditions can prove challenging, particularly if snow and ice or heavy rain make an appearance.
A properly-functioning car is a must. Consider asking your local garage whether they offer a winter once-over. In the meantime, we’ve compiled a list of tips to help you stay safe this winter.

Battery and electrics: Batteries rarely last longer than five years, and lights, heaters and wipers put high demands on them. Replacing your car battery near the end of its life can save a lot of time and inconvenience at the side of the road. Avoid running electrical systems, such as fans and rear screen heaters, any longer than necessary.

Antifreeze & De-icer: Antifreeze costs only a few pounds, but a frozen and cracked engine block will cost hundreds of pounds to repair. Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer.

Vision & Visibility: Keep your windscreen and other windows clear – you could face a hefty fine if your vision is obscured. Bad vision can obviously be a hazard to other road users as well. Clear snow from the roof as well as from windows, as it can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view. Check windscreen wipers and windscreen washer fluid regularly, and replace if necessary. Make sure that all lights are working and that lenses are clean. Clear snow from all lights. Keep your license plates clean and clear too, as you can face a fine if they are illegible.

Tyres: Don't reduce tyre pressures to get more grip – it doesn't work and can reduce stability.

Driving in snow and ice: Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving, and remember that stopping distances are 10 times longer in ice and snow. Pull away in second gear and if you have to use brakes then apply them gently. Also, bear in mind that large snow-covered boots could slip on the pedals.

PLUS: Get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car. Don't breathe on a frozen lock, as the moisture could condense and freeze. Plan your routes using major roads, which are more likely to have been cleared and gritted. Put safety before punctuality when the bad weather closes in. Allow extra time for winter journeys but be prepared for the inevitability of being late for work due to unexpected delay.

Report drunk driving: If you see a drunk driver, call 999 regardless of whether you have been endangered. You could be saving someone else’s life. If you see erratic driving (swerving, driving too slow, etc.), find a safe place to call 999. Be prepared to provide the location, driver behaviour, and most importantly, the license plate if possible.

Talk to your children: Underage drinking often occurs in binge episodes, and teenagers with little drinking experience might consider themselves okay to drive when they are not.

Avoid driving around bar closing time: Bar close tends to be a busy time on the road, especially for people who have been drinking. To err on the side of caution, head home slightly earlier, or walk home if you can.

Stay overnight: Turn the evening into a special event and consider a booking hotel room within walking distance of your favourite bars, or ask to stay over at a friend’s or family member’s house. But even if you’re driving and haven’t had a drop of alcohol, be extra vigilant on the roads for the irresponsible drivers. Leave a lot of extra space between your car and the surrounding vehicles, just in case.

Plan ahead: Have one member of your party to commit to not drinking for the night. Turn this into a rotating tradition with your friends or family. Or, pre-arrange a taxi ride or a lift home. Police enforcement is traditionally more intense on New Year’s Eve, so don’t drive under the influence. It’s never worth the risk to you, your passengers, other drivers or pedestrians or to take that chance.

Whatever your plans for this season, have fun and get home safe and sound!
Here’s to a great and safe 2016,
From all at Masterquote.