Driving in adverse weather conditions requires more caution and prevention

Today winter starts. Like every year, it brings with it a series of adverse weather conditions like rain, snow, ice and fog, that are liable to put drivers’ safety at risk.

September 9, 2017

LeasePlan, as an expert provider of mobility solutions, offers a series of practical advice to make sure that every journey made in adverse weather conditions is a safe and relaxed experience.

Driving in the rain, snow, ice or fog requires more caution and prevention compared to driving in good weather conditions. With the arrival of these four weather phenomena it is essential to be extremely careful: adapt the speed of your vehicle to the changing road conditions; increase the distance between you and the car in front; use the correct lighting - driving during the day isn’t the same as driving at night - and try to anticipate the behaviour of other drivers.  With these basic premises in mind, each weather condition requires a series of specific measure to keep you as safe as possible at the wheel.

Safety is what matters Driving in the rain adds an extra danger to driving, whether it’s heavy rain - due to the reduction in visibility and the amount of water sitting on the road surface - or whether it’s light - the mix of water, dust and grease turns the road surface into a skating rink. This phenomenon can reduce safety and multiply risks when driving, such as the likelihood of aquaplaning.

In order to reduce risks it is essential to keep your headlights on at all times, which let you see and be seen; drive smoothly, check that the windscreen wipers are working properly, maintain the correct following distance between the car in front, do not brake sharply and never plough through large puddles.

Driving in icy conditions is, without a doubt, a risk that should be avoided as far as possible. However, if you are already on the road, ice can surprise you at any moment, so, you must pay very close attention and be extremely cautious, because ice patches can be difficult to make out on tarmac.

In general, when the air temperature falls below 3 degrees it’s important to reduce speed - especially when driving in shady areas, with a lot of vegetation and dampness, but also on B-roads and country roads, where vehicles pass less frequently.  Likewise, you should double the usual separation distance from the car in front. If you go over an ice patch, you should slowly lift your foot from the accelerator without braking, as that would cause the tyre to come away from the road surface.

When driving in fog you need to plan your route, be aware of the weather, and also conduct an in-depth preventative check of the vehicle. This should include the state of the lights - fog lamps and the headlights, the tyres and the fluid levels for the windscreen wash and brake fluid, not forgetting the wiper blades - make sure they’re not worn down - as well as the rest of the vehicle's safety features.

Once on the road, the first thing is to pay very close attention, reduce your speed, maintain the correct following distance, keep to the outside lane on dual carriageways and motorways, and keep a close eye out for bikes that may be close by on these roads.

Finally, going out on the roads in the snow also requires extra preventative measures from drivers. If you know you might encounter snow before you start your journey, it is recommended that pack blankets, food and drink, as well as a charged telephone and battery. You should also check the overall state of the vehicle before setting off.

Once on the road, you should drive with dipped beam headlights - avoid full beam as it dazzles - adjust your speed to the road conditions and never exceed 50 mph; increase the separation distance between you and the vehicle in front; do not brake or accelerate sharply, and drive smoothly, keeping to higher gears.

By following these recommendations, and being very careful at the wheel, we will reach our destination without any nasty shocks.

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