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October 26, 2023

Demystifying Winter Driving Myths

A Guide to Safe Winter Travel

As the frosty fingers of winter creep into the air, so do a host of misconceptions and half-truths about winter driving. While some of these myths may seem harmless, they can have a significant impact on your safety and well-being on the road. To help you navigate the icy landscape of winter driving, let's debunk some of the most common myths and equip you with the knowledge to make informed decisions behind the wheel.

Myth: Insurers Will Always Pay Out If You Crash Due To Ice

The harsh reality is that insurers may not always cover damages caused by winter driving incidents. If you find yourself in an accident caused solely by icy conditions, your insurance company may deem it an at-fault claim. This means that you could be held responsible for the costs of repairs and other expenses.

Myth: A Winter Emergency Kit Is Legally Required

While there's no legal mandate to carry a winter emergency kit, it's highly advisable to do so. A well-stocked kit can be your lifeline in case of a breakdown or other unexpected emergency. Essential items include:

  • A first aid kit
  • Blankets
  • Food and water
  • A torch/flashlight
  • Jumper cables
  • A mobile phone charger

Myth: Driving with Ice on Your Windscreen Is Allowed

This is a serious misconception that can have dire consequences. Operating a vehicle with ice or snow on the windscreen is illegal. The obstruction significantly impairs your vision, putting you and other road users at risk. Always take the time to clear the windscreen thoroughly before setting off.

Myth: Letting Your Car Warm Up for Extended Periods Is Necessary

Many people believe that they need to let their car idle for a long time before driving in cold weather. However, this is not necessary with modern cars. Modern car engines are designed to warm up quickly, and letting the car idle excessively can waste fuel and increase pollution emissions. A few minutes of gentle driving is sufficient to bring the engine to its operating temperature.

Myth: Pouring Boiling Water on Your Windscreen De-ices It Effectively

This is a common misconception that can cause serious damage to your windscreen. Pouring boiling water onto a cold windscreen can cause sudden and severe thermal shock, potentially cracking the glass. If you need to de-ice your windscreen, use a de-icer spray or carefully scrape the ice off using a windscreen scraper.

Myth: Driving in Boots or Wellies Is Illegal

There is no specific law against driving in boots or wellies, but it is not recommended due to the potential for reduced grip and difficulty maneuvering pedals and the gear shifter. If you must wear these types of footwear, consider wearing thin socks underneath for enhanced grip. Aviva research finds that 13% of UK motorists have done just that. But that doesn't mean it's a good idea

Myth: Winter Tyres Invalidate Car Insurance

This is false. Winter tyres are designed to provide better traction on snow and ice, and they can significantly reduce the risk of accidents. Using winter tyres does not affect your car insurance coverage. In fact, many insurers provide discounts for drivers who use winter tyres.

Additional Winter Driving Tips

In addition to debunking these common myths, here are some additional tips for safe winter driving:

  • Reduce your speed and allow for extra stopping distance.
  • Maintain a safe following distance from the vehicle ahead.
  • Avoid abrupt lane changes and braking.
  • Make gentle steering inputs when cornering.
  • Beware of black ice, which is difficult to see.
  • Use your hazard lights if visibility is reduced.
  • Keep your vehicle well-maintained, including checking tire pressure and tread depth.
  • Get a good night's sleep before you drive, as fatigue can impair your driving ability.

Navigating the icy roads of winter requires a combination of preparation, caution, and awareness. By debunking common winter driving myths, we can empower ourselves with knowledge to make informed decisions on the road. Remember, winter driving is less about speed and more about patience, control, and adherence to safety precautions. Stay informed about road conditions, maintain a safe following distance, and equip your car with the necessary tools to handle winter weather.

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