Winter Driving.

Winter Driving.

Alas, it’s that time of year again! The clocks have recently gone back, the nights are drawing in and it’s getting damn cold!

However, not to worry. We’ve got your back when it comes to preparing for the winter and ensuring that your earning potential is not compromised by that pesky snow and ice.

Weather conditions are something that we cannot control and no-one enjoys winter driving, but having said that there is a lot that we can do to mitigate its effects.

Larger vans are often rear wheel drive, which is great when you’re carrying a heavy load, but when the load is light, or you are empty, they are like Bambi on ice!…. Not good!

When I first started driving a van I expected it to be more sure-footed in the snow than my car. I quickly found out that this was a false expectation, when I couldn’t drive up even a modest hill, with only a smattering of snow on it.

Being prepared is the key to overcoming inclement weather conditions and while it is definitely not necessary to purchase snow chains, as I did (which were a complete waste of money, by the way) there are some things that you can do that will help, as follows:

  • Check the weather forecast for the day. Definitely do this first thing and again throughout the day if necessary. At the very least, this will tell you if you need to take a waterproof jacket, or fleece. More importantly, it will tell you whether, or not you will need to allow extra time for your journey.
  • When starting the engine ensure that any additional electrical load is removed first by switching off lights, radios, heated windows etc. Turn the engine over in short, 5-second bursts. If it is struggling to start, wait 30 seconds between attempts.
  • If there is a chance that you may end up driving in snowy, or icy conditions
    extra care will be required. Ensure that you have topped up with
    antifreeze (a 50/50 mix, with water will protect down to -34C) and that you carry some de-icer with you. Also understand that your battery will receive additional punishment through the extra use of lights, wind-screen wipers etc.
  • On the subject of wind-screen wipers, now is the time to consider fitting new wiper blades, so that you maintain good visibility.
  • Now, before the bad weather really sets-in, is the time to check your service schedule and proactively get your vehicle serviced.
  • While it’s a “no” to the snow chains, carrying a bag of rock-salt, (or grit) in your van can prove to be invaluable for those times when you do become snow-bound. A little bit under the drive-wheels can provide just enough traction to help you get going again.
  • Floor mats, rugs, or even sheets of cardboard can also be used if necessary to provide that all-important traction.
  • Also keep a shovel in your van for those times when salt and/or grit just aren’t enough.
  • Consider fitting winter tyres to your vehicle, which have a slightly different composition to standard tyres that helps them to perform better in snowy, or icy conditions.
  • If you don’t go for the winter tyre option, ensure that your tread depth is at least 3mm during winter, even though the legal limit is only 1.6mm. (Click here for some guidance on checking tyre tread depths from the guys at Driving Test Success).
  • In snowy, or icy conditions, take it slowly. Take it very easy on both the accelerator and the brake pedals. As you approach uphill sections of road, allow plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front, so that there is no chance that you may need to brake, or worse still, stop! On downhill sections, keep in low gear and try to avoid braking altogether. If you do have to brake, make it as gentle as possible.

I hope that these tips are of use to you. As long as you are prepared, you are less likely to encounter problems when the ‘big freeze’ arrives (as it inevitably will do sooner, or later).

Please comment and share below, with any additional ideas that you may have, which could help your fellow drivers.

Freelance Courier/Owner-Driver, van driver, - Driving For Profit - Van Image

Finally, if you would like more information on winter driving, plus comprehensive guidance on all things freelance courier, please check-out our book on Amazon, which has recently been reduced in price. Click here.

Alternatively, get the e-book for less than half the price of the paperback by going to our ‘About’ page and clicking on the ‘Buy Now’ button.

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