Winter is the most dangerous time of the year to drive because of the cold weather and poor visibility - it gets dark earlier, the low sun can obscure your view and fog can prevent you seeing more than a few feet in front of you. Snow and ice can create treacherous conditions because your tyres lose grip on the road.
To make it through the winter safely, there are things you should be doing in the autumn to prepare. This includes checking your car's oil and making sure that your service history is up to date. You will also need to check that your breakdown cover is in date.
The windscreen washing fluid needs to be topped up and adjusted to winter concentrations to prevent it freezing and it is important to make sure that your battery is working properly too - dead batteries are a major cause of breakdown in the winter and you don't want to get stuck on the roadside.
Tyres need to be in good condition and it is worth considering special winter tyres if the forecast is for really bad winter weather. A spare is important and this should also be checked for condition - good tread is essential for grip on the road.
Lights are also important and must be working properly.
Once the car maintenance has been done, you should stock your car with winter essentials. These include torch, warning triangle, shovel, a couple of carpet tiles, warm clothes, blankets and a few food items such as cereal bars in case you get unexpectedly stuck.
Of course the safest thing to do is not to drive when it is icy, foggy or snowing but often this is not possible. If you do have to venture out in such conditions, check the weather report for the day, pack a flask of hot drink and take a fully charged mobile with you.
If you find that you encounter fog, make sure that your light are on - this is as much for others to see you as for you to see the road.
If your car slips on snow or ice you need to come off the accelerator and steer into the slide until you regain control. Sudden steering and braking will not help you.
For times when you get stuck in snow, try using your carpet tiles under the wheels to help you grip. If that fails, you should have your mobile to call your breakdown recovery service.
In the UK we are not very used to driving in harsh winter conditions but it is possible to do it safely and with some forward planning, careful driving and good road awareness, your chances of a safe winter in your car will increase.