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Driving in Winter Weather: Cowens’ Essential Guide

03/12/18

Driving in Winter Weather: Cowens’ Essential Guide

After the infamous ‘Beast from the East’ hit the UK last year, it appears that winter weather is getting increasingly extreme, with even more harsh conditions predicted for the months ahead.

The snow storms back in March cost the UK economy £1 billion per day and caused a massive 290% rise in insurance pay-outs to home and business owners for property damage in Q1 of 2018. The AA saw over £10 million worth of damage to cars and 8,000 road collisions in just three days! Many of which could have been prevented with a few simple steps.

Although most advice says to ‘postpone non-essential journeys’ in the snow, in reality, many businesses still need to function, and their employees still need to drive. As the weather gets colder and winter approaches, here, Risk Advisor at Cowens Risk Solutions, Simon Fabian, gives his expert advice on how to stay safe whilst driving in freezing conditions and reduce your risk of a claim.

Turn traction control OFF
When driving in snow, traction control looks for grip and if the roads are slippery, power is limited to the engine. This makes pulling away more difficult.

Clear your car properly
We’ve all been there – being in a rush to get to work and forgetting to clear your car roof of snow. Many people don’t realise this is actually illegal and can result in a £60 fine! Prevent snow from falling off your roof onto your windscreen (or somebody else’s) before leaving home. Clear ice from the whole of your windscreen – not just a hole for you to see through, as well as your side and rear windows, front and rear lights, door mirrors, number plates and parking cameras. Use de-icer or a scraper – never hot water! The temperature difference can crack your windows.

Don’t stop
Momentum is key – starting your car in the snow is the hardest part. Driving slowly, smoothly and sensibly whilst stopping as infrequently as you can will prevent delays and make your journey safer.

Pack the essentials
In extreme conditions, it’s a good idea to pack supplies for the worst-case scenario. Bring food, water, warm clothing, a shovel, de-icer and a torch in case your car gets stuck in the snow. Ensure you have a full tank of fuel, so you can run the engine to keep warm if you stop and don’t forget to listen to road updates before your journey, so you can plan the safest route.

Check your tyre treads
Always check your tyre tread depths and ensure to have at least 3mm of tread on them, to cope with the slippery conditions. Alternatively, a set of winter tyres will improve grip and traction in ice and snow. This can have a huge impact on your insurance claim should you have an accident in bad conditions.

Use the correct lights
Fog lamps should only be used if visibility is very poor – they can dazzle other road users, which can be intensified if there is spray from melted snow coming out from the rear of your car or white snow on the road is reflecting the light back up at them.

Keep your distance
It can take a car 10 times longer to stop on an icy road than it does in normal conditions. Leave a 20 second gap between the car in front of you to give yourself time to stop or avoid a collision.

How to deal with skidding
If your car hits a patch of ice and you feel the car skidding, take your foot off the accelerator to allow the speed to drop by itself until you regain control. Brakes will encourage the car to skid further, so avoid using them and steer into the direction of the skid to straighten the car.

If you’re concerned about your car or business insurance for the winter months, contact our Risk Solutions team on info@cowensgroup.co.uk.