The three P’s of Safe Winter Driving

The three P’s of Safe Winter Driving: PREPARE for the trip; PROTECT yourself, and PREVENT crashes on the road. Maintain Your Car: Check battery, tyre tread, and windshield wipers, keep your windows clear, put no-freeze fluid in the washer reservoir, and check your antifreeze.

Driving during the winter season can be more challenging than at any other time of the year as weather conditions can change drastically over a single day. The combination of changing weather reduced daylight and the increased risk of fatigue kicking in during the pre and post-work commute. Temperatures are dropping across Zimbabwe, signalling that winter is on its way. While most people will ensure they are protected from the cold, they forget about their vehicles. These valuable assets also need some care against the elements at this time of year.  It is imperative that you understand the key issue areas to keep an eye on, so we’ve given you some advice on your winter car service.  However, a few small changes to your driving behaviour can go a long way towards keeping our roads safe. However, if you do experience a winter breakdown, remember that Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance is here to help….  

Be Alert to the Risk of Fatigue

While fatigue is an issue for drivers all year round, the winter season brings with it a heightened risk as we often find ourselves doing most of our driving in darkness. This combined with the additional commitments you may be juggling in the months ahead can lead to your concentration slipping while you’re behind the wheel. If you find this happening the best option is to pull in somewhere safe and take a 10 to 15-minute break from driving, ideally getting a coffee if you have the option to do so.

Plan your journey in advance

During the winter season, your car may take a little longer to get started in the morning so plan and get up at least 10 minutes early to give you time to prepare the car. Far too often we all encounter motorists driving around during the winter season with only a small gap cleared in their windscreen – don’t be one of these people. Only begin your commute when the windscreen is fully clear. Most importantly, remember to prioritise your safety and that of other road users ahead of punctuality in the months ahead – especially if the weather worsens. During the coming months allow extra time for any journey you are taking, particularly those either early in the morning or late at night, but also accept that you may find yourself running late on a few occasions due to an unexpected delay on the roads. Never drive in a reckless manner or without adequately clearing your windscreen, windows and mirrors just for the sake of starting your journey a few minutes earlier.

Even if you feel as though your car is running perfectly fine, it is always a good idea to get a Winter Check before you go into the colder months, as there can be problem areas that you may not be aware of. 

What is included in a free winter car check?

Winter Checks concentrate on six main areas of the vehicle, these are:
– Tyre Inspection
– Battery Test
– Coolant & Antifreeze Top-up
– Windscreen Wipers Inspection
– Lights Assessment
– Oil Level Replenishment

Tyre Inspection…It is essential to ensure that your tyres are fully prepared for the possible change in terrain as roads can become wet over the colder months. 

Battery Test…The last thing anyone wants to do is be caught out with problems with their car battery in winter. ensure your battery is protected, charged and secured.

Coolant and Antifreeze Top-Ups…engine-related breakdowns are commonly related to issues with a vehicle’s cooling system.  Frozen water expands and can split engine hoses and pipes, causing leaks and reducing cooling efficiency.

Windscreen Wiper Check…Windscreen wipers are extremely important in the winter as the weather can change unexpectedly and it is imperative to have perfect vision whilst driving. 

Lights Assessment… A car light assessment will ensure all lights are working to the correct standard. There are a lot fewer hours of sunlight in the winter and you may find yourself driving in fog, meaning front and rear lights are used more. Driving with broken lights is dangerous, so this is a necessary precaution to take.

Oil Level Replenishment…Too little or too much oil in a vehicle can cause major engine problems. To avoid breakdowns in the cold months, it is important to get this checked and find the best engine oil for winter in your car. In some instances, the oil may need to be thinner during winter to allow the vehicle to run more smoothly – this is something your technician will advise you on.

Dress Appropriately…No this isn’t about making sure you’re warm in your car, but about making sure that you have the right footwear for driving. During your day, the shoes you wore to work could become wet from rain, potentially increasing the risk that they could slip off the pedals of your car. Having a pair of flat shoes which you keep in your car and only use for driving could also go a long way towards staying safe on the roads.

Watch out for breakdowns and vulnerable road users

While the number of pedestrians and cyclists may drop slightly during the winter months, especially if weather conditions worsen significantly, it’s important that you remain on the lookout for these vulnerable road users while driving and allow extra space when overtaking. For example, during high winds, a cyclist or pedestrian could easily be blown off course so exercising additional caution is vital.

Similarly, you are more likely to encounter a broken-down car during your driving over the coming months. While there are some things you can do to avoid your car breakdown, if the road ahead is partially blocked by a breakdown slow down, only overtake when it is safe to do so, and use your hazard warning lights to alert cars behind you to the obstruction.

Reaching the destination safely is the best reward for any motorists! Should you encounter any motoring issues, remember that Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance provides 24/7 Roadside Assistance Service for our Members and the motoring community. Whilst it’s possible to reduce your risk of breakdown, it’s an unfortunate reality that even the most expertly maintained and superbly driven vehicle may break down due to unforeseen circumstances. In these instances, Drive Zimbabwe Roadside Assistance breakdown cover can make all the difference. Call us or  Whatsapp at 0780 579 261/0718 084 297 / 0773 232 270 and Join Today

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