One of the most certain things about living in London is that the weather is very changeable. It won't always be blue skies and a warm breeze every time you use your car. You will find yourself driving through rain, sleet, snow and many other difficult weather conditions that nature can throw at you from time to time. Therefore it is a good idea to be aware of how to deal with these conditions and to make sure that you are fully covered with the best car insurance possible.
How to drive in wet weather
When driving in the wet, your braking distance must be at least double that of in the dry. The reason for this is that tyres have fewer grips on the road in wet weather. Therefore you should be giving yourself the following distances at the following speeds:
- 20mph = 6 car lengths
- 30mph = 12 car lengths
- 40mph = 18 car lengths
- 50mph = 26 car lengths
- 60mph = 36 car lengths
- 78mph = 48 car lengths
So in short, keep well back from the car in front. Visibility may be low due to the spray from other cars and heavy rainfall, so keep your windscreen wipers going at the appropriate speed and turn your lights on. The lights will help you become more visible to other drivers as the spray can make it difficult for them to see you.
If your car's steering begins to become unresponsive, ease off the accelerator and gradually slow down the car. This is because the water is stopping the tyres from gripping the road.
How to drive in windy weather
High winds can be dangerous and driving in those conditions requires some care. This type of weather mainly affects high-sided vehicles, such as articulated Lorries. However, a sudden gust of wind can catch a car or bike and blow it off-course. Be aware that this occurs on open stretches of road exposed to cross-winds, bridges and gaps in hedges.
When driving in this weather, keep to the speed limit and be prepared for sudden gusts, keep a firm grip on the steering wheel with both hands. Take special care when overtaking high-sided motor vehicles and keep good distance between your car and the car in front.
How to drive in fog
When entering fog, check your mirrors and slow down. Switch on your fog lights and keep them on until the fog clears. Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you as it is important that you can pull up within the distance that you can see clearly. If you have to slow down, check your mirrors then apply the brakes, your brake lights will warn vehicles behind you. In order to aid with visibility, use your windscreen wipers and demisters. When arriving at a junction, stop in the correct place and listen for traffic. You should only move when you are absolutely sure that there is no oncoming traffic. If you are driving through an area with road signs marked 'Fog', but the road is clear, be prepared to meet a bank of fog or drifting patches ahead.
Driving in icy and snowy conditions
Do not attempt a journey in these conditions unless it is absolutely necessary! Check local and national weather reports to keep updated on developments in the weather. If you do have to journey in this weather then take your time, plan for your journey to take longer. The Highway Code recommends that you should have an emergency kit containing an ice scraper, de-ice, a torch, first aid kit, boots, warm clothing, jump-leads and a shovel. Also pack some warm drink and food.
Before you set off:
- Ensure that your lights are clean and the number plates are clearly visible
- Clear all snow and ice from your windows.
- De-mist your windows and check that your mirrors are clear.
- Check that your planned route is clear of delays and that no further severe weather is predicted.
Icy roads are very dangerous and demand extreme care when driving on them. Drive slowly in as high a gear as possible and keep both braking and acceleration gentle too. You are more likely to lose control on bends so be particularly careful on them. Brake progressively on the straight before the bend, then steer smoothly round without any sudden movements.
Snow covered roads
Be extremely careful, even if the roads have been treated with salt and keep back from any road user in front. Stopping distances in these conditions can be around ten times greater than normal. You should also be prepared for road conditions to change over time.
There will probably be gritting vehicles on the road, so take care when overtaking. Snow ploughs should not be overtaken as they throw out snow on both sides. Only overtake if the lane has already been cleared.