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Winter Driving Questions Unveiled: Part 1

Winter Driving Questions Unveiled: Part 1

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With the cold winter days fast approaching and the dark nights now here, driving can be a daunting experience. Whether you’re driving to work, the shops or travelling to a relative’s home for Christmas ensuring your car is in full working condition is essential. Sometimes though, we forget some of the rules of the road during the colder months; read on as we answer some of the common questions asked by drivers.

Am I At Fault In The Winter Months If Weather Conditions Are Poor And I’m Involved In An Accident?

Unfortunately, from an insurance company’s view on a collision during poor weather conditions, it’s the driver’s responsibility to control the car whatever the weather. Even though they are aware that the weather can’t be controlled, extra precautions need to be taken whilst driving in such conditions. Research from the AA found that nearly 3,000 accidents per year occur from sun glare, resulting in an average of 36 deaths per year.

If the accident is between two cars, the insurance company will determine fault, regardless of weather and road conditions. In some cases a 50-50 fault determination may be made if both of the cars collided due to lack of control from both vehicles.

Although cases of winter weather related accidents are acknowledged by insurance companies, in most cases, the driver’s insurance premium will increase.

So How Can I Avoid A Collison In The Winter?

To reduce the risk of being involved in an accident during the winter months you need to ensure that you’re prepared. Your car should be defrosted completely before you set off, your windows should be cleaned more regularly to clear the windscreen of road spray. You should also drive slowly and increase the distance between you and the car in front. If the glare of the sun is really affecting your sight, you may wear driving sunglasses which are usually fixed or variable tint sunglasses; standard sunglasses are usually too dark and not suitable for driving.
If you feel like you’re not comfortable driving in bad weather conditions, the best option would be to seek alternative transport, or in severe cases, stay at home.

What Is The Best Way To De-Ice My Car?

To start with, you should be made aware of what not to use as you could damage your car. The classic myth of using a credit card/CD case or some form of metal item should never be followed as you will more than likely scratch your windscreen. You should NEVER pour hot water over your screen as the temperature difference can cause your screen to crack. In addition to this, you should not use a portable hairdryer or heated appliance to melt the ice as in an unfortunate event, you could electrocute yourself.

Moving on to how to de-ice your car; all you need is two simple items to de-ice your car; a plastic scraper and some de-icer spray. With the plastic scraper you should combine a firm and broad stroke across the glass and check the window wipers are not frozen. For the colder mornings when temperatures are sitting on or below freezing, you can purchase an insulated glove scraper from most major supermarkets, so your hands stay warm. With the de-icer spray you should start from the top of your screen and let gravity work its magic with frost and ice further down your screen (although more spray may be needed). Some people switch their heaters on until the ice has gone, although this takes up time, wastes fuel and not very environmentally friendly.

The Highway Code also states that lights, indicators, reflectors and number plates should be kept clear of snow and ice, so make sure these are clear too before you set off on your journey. You should set off ten minutes earlier than your usual time to allow your car to be fully ice, snow and frost free.

If you want to save money, you can also place an old blanket across your window screen on an evening to stop your screen from frosting over or you can purchase a frost window guard from retailers.

Can I Drive With Fog Lights On When Visibility Is Clear?

No, you should only have your fog lights switched on when visibility is less than 100 metres (328 feet), which on average is the length of a football pitch (rule 226 from the Highway Code). If you don’t use your fog lights in the fog it can be dangerous for both you and other road users, and in the unfortunate event of an accident, if your fog lights were switched off this can invalidate your insurance. You should also not keep switching your fog lights on and off as this may confuse other drivers and they may assume these are your hazards, or another warning. Once the fog has lifted you should switch off your fog lights.

According to the Road Vehicle Lighting Regulation 1989, front and rear fog lights are prohibited to dazzle other drivers when visibility conditions are clear. You should also not use your fog lights in rain and drizzle; if you use your fog lights in these conditions you risk receiving a fine from the police.

We hope our article has been insightful and if you have any questions or want to find out more about any of the questions answered in this blog, feel free to contact our friendly team at Richard Hardie. Keep checking back for part 2 of Winter Driving Conditions Unveiled!

Winter Driving Questions Unveiled: Part 2 will answer:
• What Should I Keep In My Boot During The Winter Months?
• Coolant Levels: Can I Top Up With Water?
• I’ve Been Told To Take My Child’s Winter Jacket Off Whilst They Are In The Car Seat, Why Is This?


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