As I navigated my car down the steep, narrow streets of Sheffield over the weekend, I attempted a fairly innocuous left turn. I then had the bizarre and hair-raising experience of my car sliding sideways, across to the other side of the road and stopping just centimetres from a parked car.
As I gathered my wits, I realised I had slid over a sheet of ice.
So, as winter grips Britain, and if, as predicted, we are in for a winter of Arctic proportions, how should we minimise the risks of an accident?
Checking your car before you go:
- A decent pair of winter tyres are a pricey investment, but their grip and braking capabilities in cold and icy conditions could be the difference between a near miss and a painful accident.
- Check weather forecasts before setting off. If it looks bad, consider whether your journey is really necessary.
- Prepare for the worst. Pack a charged mobile phone (and a charger), a bottle of water, a few snacks and a warm blanket. A pen and paper may also be an idea.
- If snowfall looks likely, a set of snow socks – high-grip fabric covers fitted over the car’s driven wheels.
- Completely clear windows and mirrors before you set off.
- If you can alter your cars drive modes, select the best option for cold conditions.
- Look well ahead for potential hazards – including, of course, patches of ice – and keep to a low speed.
- Accelerate, brake, steer and change gear as smoothly as possible to reduce the risk of a skid.
- A higher gear (like 4th or 5th) may be more appropriate to aid grip on packed ice. This helps control engine power, and makes it easier to find traction.
If your vehicle does slide, take your foot off the accelerator and turn the steering wheel into to the skid (in the direction that you want to travel). This might seem counter intuitive, but doing so straightens the car and should help you regain control.
If all of that fails….
It is a legal requirement, that if you have an accident, you must exchange insurance details (name, address, vehicle number plate). If the vehicle is parked, and you can’t locate the owner, leave a note on their windscreen.
We hope everyone stays as safe as possible this winter.
For free, friendly advice on making a personal injury claim, please call 0114 218 4000 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.