Here’s how to stay safe on the roads this January

As the temperature starts to plummet, driving on the roads can become increasingly difficult and hazardous.

To stay safe, it’s important to adjust your driving style according to the weather conditions and carry out the necessary vehicle checks before you venture out.

CarShop has put together these top tips to help you tackle the big freeze from behind the wheel.

Make sure your tyres are suitable for winter conditions

Most UK cars are fitted with either summer or all-season tyres, however these tyres will not perform at their best in extremely wintery conditions. Winter tyres are designed to be flexible in extreme cold and provide better grip on snow and ice. Although not mandatory by law, they are the best way to help keep you safe in icy conditions, especially in isolated areas.

Top up your coolant with antifreeze

Most cars now come with a sealed cooling system that shouldn’t need topping up. For cars that do not come with a sealed cooling system, the coolant should be a 50/50 split between water and anti-freeze, but this can dilute over time.

This can result in freezing and potential damage to the engine, so ensure your coolant is at the correct level before making any journeys during winter. It should always be between the ‘MAX’ and ‘MIN’ levels on the side of your expansion tank. 

Defrosting your windscreen

If you’re a car owner, no doubt you dread having to defrost your windows before hitting the road on an early morning.

The best and safest way to clear your windscreen is to use a scraper and de-icer. Starting the engine, switching on the heated windscreen, rear screen and mirrors, and allowing air-conditioned air to circulate to gently warm the glass also helps speed up the process.

Ensure you don’t leave your car on its own with the keys in the ignition, and double check that your windscreen and all other windows are fully defrosted before you drive off.

Get set for longer journeys

Long journeys are very common during the festive season, as people drive far and wide to spend Christmas with family and friends. It’s important to plan your journey and be prepared for any adverse conditions that might make driving difficult. Check the weather, traffic news and safest routes before you begin your journey, and make sure you have warm clothes and food packed, should you break down.

Prepare a winter car breakdown kit

Winter car breakdown kits are essential to carry in your boot during the colder months. A range of kits are available, with most including a high-vis vest, snow shovel, torch and thermal blankets. Other recommended items also include snow grips for your shoes, non-perishable food, drink supplies and a phone charger.

Check your breakdown cover

A fully comprehensive breakdown cover is vital if you’re driving during the winter months and will give you peace of mind that you won’t be stuck if you do break down. Before you venture out on the roads, double check exactly what you are covered for.

Download a weather app

Keeping on top of the changing weather conditions is imperative. Before you make a car journey, download a weather app to your phone and double check you won’t encounter any adverse conditions during your journey. If you think you might encounter particularly bad weather, it may be worth postponing your trip until conditions have improved.

Kirk O'Callaghan, Operations Director at Car Shop, says: “It’s even more important to take safety precautions in the adverse weather that winter brings.

“I hope our customers and communities driving in these conditions find these tips useful and bear them in mind before setting off on any long journeys."