Winter, known for its below-zero temperatures, appalling weather, short days and dark evenings, presents numerous challenges to motorists and few would disagree that it is the most dangerous season to drive in. Rain, sleet, snow and hail, as well as fog and high winds, can make driving difficult in wintertime as can icy roads that may cause automobiles to slip and slide with disastrous results. Ice on the roads, including the deceptive black ice, is a common occurrence in the aftermath of rain, snow or sleet when rainwater or meltwater refreezes solid making the roads treacherous.

Check battery, electrical systems and antifreeze.

The last thing a motorist wants when driving in winter conditions is for the car battery to die, causing the engine and electrical components to fail and leaving the car and driver stranded and vulnerable beside the road. Disasters may also occur when the car has insufficient antifreeze, resulting in such complications as the failure of engine components and the bursting of radiators. Efforts should be made to avoid unnecessary drain on car batteries, tending to last five years and needing testing every six months, while electrical systems should be checked and maintained in peak condition.

Ensure tyres are suitable for winter conditions.

Fitting a car with the correct tyres for driving in winter conditions, such as winter or all-season tyres, and ensuring that they are in optimal condition is crucial for safe driving in winter. A tyre tread of 3mm is necessary for safe winter driving and maintaining tyres at the manufacturer’s recommended pressure while remembering that pressure drops in cold weather, is essential for wheel stability. Every car should be equipped with a spare tyre and tyre repair kit just in case a tyre becomes damaged and needs replacing or fixing.

Maintain optimum visibility.

In order to drive safely in winter, it is crucial that visibility is maintained to the highest standard during the hours of daylight and darkness alike. Functioning windshield wipers are required to sweep aside rain, sleet, hail, snow and mud that can obscure the driver’s vision while lights must be capable of illuminating the dark winter evenings and of penetrating the dense veils of winter fog. Windows should be clean, clear and free of any objects that could block the view while visors are necessary to shield the driver’s eyes from the glare of the low winter sun.