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Winter can be the most challenging season for motorists, but you can manage the problem by ensuring your vehicle is prepared for the difficulties of winter driving.

If you live in a temperate or cold climate where snowfall and icy roads are common occurrences during the winter months, you may be familiar with the inherent dangers of winter driving. Many young drivers find winter driving extremely challenging and even those with more experience may still be hesitant to get behind the wheel when the roads are slippery. While there are some circumstances in which it’s advisable to leave your car in the garage and use other means of transport, you can take steps to improve your safety and that of other road users by making sure your car is in good condition to tackle slippery roads and that you are psychologically prepared for other challenges of the season.

In some countries, it’s a legal requirement to replace standard tyres with specialised winter tyres that offer superior traction on icy surfaces once the cold weather arrives. Cars may also be fitted with snow chains, though legislation in certain regions bans their use for city driving due to the damage they can cause to road surfaces. You don’t necessarily have to replace parts of your car though, as long as you perform regular checks and maintenance to identify any potential problems before they become more serious.

Some common problems associated with winter driving include freezing fluids, which can cause your engine to run dry and windscreens to remain dirty, broken or faulty heating and the serious issue of braking on roads where traction is severely decreased. Driving at lower speeds is recommended in the city and on country lanes, to ensure you will have more time to react to oncoming hazards such as other vehicles and pedestrians.

Another danger of winter driving that doesn’t always come instantly to mind is glare from the low-lying sun, which hangs lower in the sky later in the day and can be a deadly distraction if drivers don’t make use of window shades. It’s not generally recommended that learner drivers have their first experiences of the road during the winter months, but if you are teaching a relative or friend to drive, making sure you’re covered by insurance for cars with more than one driver should help you avoid problems with your claim if the vehicle is involved in an accident.

It is also important to prepare for the worst in winter, so make sure you fill your car with provisions in case you do breakdown or get stuck in a traffic jam. Keep plenty of warm clothes and blankets in your car; it is not to uncommon for snow to trap people in their vehicles overnight so you will need to keep warm. Plenty of water and food is also advisable for this scenario, with it a good idea to take a flask of hot soup or coffee with you if you’re going on a long drive. Make sure you have a good window scraper as well because ice on your window can be extremely dangerous and potentially lethal. It is also important to take an up-to-date road map or sat nav with you in case any road closures force you to alter your route – you don’t want to get lost when it’s freezing cold.