Winter Driving Advice


With the worst of the winter weather yet to arrive, XPI Simulation has pulled together some handy tips and advice to reduce the risks associated with driving in poor weather conditions.

Be prepared

If your vehicle were to break down during a snowy night, would you have everything needed to stay warm and safe? Now may be the time to make space in the boot for some winter driving essentials.

Here are the items we recommend you keep in your car during the winter.

  • Blankets and warm clothing
  • An ice scraper
  • Hand warmers
  • A first aid kit
  • Jump leads in case of a flat battery
  • Extra washer fluid
  • Food
  • Drink
  • A flashlight, with replacement batteries
  • A warning triangle in case of breakdown
  • Mobile phone and charger
  • Winter shoes/boots

Before you set off

Do you need to make the journey and have you considered alternatives to driving?

  • Use public transport
  • Call ahead to rearrange your meeting
  • Use video conferencing such as Skye or FaceTime
  • Work from home
  • Travel with a friend or colleague

Check the winter road conditions before leaving the house!

The best way to avoid a dangerous winter driving situation is to know what to expect.

Knowing that snow is coming may deter you from driving and find alternative methods of travel or different routes. Most importantly, knowing what to expect will keep you prepared and safe.

Ensure you have the number of a recovery service in your phone or vehicle.

Fill up on fuel

It’s good practice to keep your tank at least 50% full at all times in the winter as journeys will take a longer to complete and you might need to keep the engine turned on to stay warm if you become stuck in icy conditions.

Check your vehicle for roadworthiness

Some basic checks on your vehicle will help to reduce the risk of mechanical breakdowns, whatever the weather;

  • Fuel – enough for the journey and any breakdowns
  • Lights – head and side lights, indicators, brake and reversing lights and hazard warning lights
  • Oils – engine, power steering, brake fluid
  • Water levels – screen wash, coolant levels
  • Electrics – horn, wipers, heater controls
  • Rubber – tyre pressures, tread depth (consider winter tyres if you often experience wintery conditions), windscreen wipers

Take advantage of the many motoring outlets that offer free winter roadworthiness checks to ensure your vehicle is prepared for poor weather conditions.

Winter driving advice

  • Keep your distance – your vehicle will take up to 10 times the normal distance to stop on ice and compact snow
  • Keep your speed down – ensure you can stop safely and drive to the road conditions
  • Don’t rely on ABS – ABS assists your ability to steer when braking, it won’t help to you stop more quickly in icy conditions
  • Drive smoothly – avoid harsh braking, accelerating and cornering
  • Plan ahead and try to keep moving – this will help prevent getting stuck and can reduce the risk of the vehicle behind hitting you
  • Give other drivers plenty of room – where possible, move away from side roads joining from the left just in case a vehicle emerging can’t stop in time
  • Watch for micro-climates – road conditions vary – exposed bridges, shaded roads and areas where standing water collects could be more icy that a previous stretch of road
  • In foggy conditions – keep greater distance and slow down to allow you to stop within the limits of your vision
  • Heavy rain and floods – watch for aquaplaning through standing water, 30cm depth of water can float a car

If you do get stuck

Here are the steps you should take to try to free yourself if stuck in snow:

  1. Get rid of the snow blocking your car
    1. This is where you pull out the trusty shovel in your trunk and make sure than any snow blocking your car’s clear path out of the snow is removed.
  2. Make sure no important parts of your car are blocked off by snow
    1. This includes your windshield, exhaust pipes and headlights.
    2. If it’s dark outside, keep your headlights on and clear them of snow so that people can see what you are doing.
  3. Find something to put around the tyres for traction
    1. The best substances for this are salt, wooden board or a blanket.
    2. The salt will help melt the snow and along with the wood/blanket can provide traction to your tyres.
  4. Put the car the lowest possible gear and make sure 4 wheel drive is turned on if you have that option
    1. The lower the gear, the more traction you will have.
    2. 4 wheel drive is self-explanatory: the more wheels are working to get out of the snow, the easier it will be.
  5. Keep your wheels straight
    1. If your wheels are straight, your car has a clearer path to get out of the snow and will have more momentum than if you are trying to turn.
  6. Rock the car
    1. Get in the car and begin rocking forward and backward a few inches at a time. As you rock, your vehicle should build momentum and gain more and more traction.

Simulation-based driver training

XPI Simulation’s cutting-edge driving simulation systems enable users to experience driving in a range of weather conditions – whatever the weather outside. The ability to simulate the effects of rain, snow and ice on visibility and vehicle handling means that users can familiarise themselves with such conditions in a safe, risk-free environment. XPI’s suite of scenarios and road layouts means that training can be focused on specific individual needs, maximising the effectiveness of the activity. Moreover, the ability to record and replay trainee activity enables our qualified driving instructors to provide precise feedback.

For more information on how our mobile simulator solutions could reduce your fleet risk profile, please contact:

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