The Benefits of Learning to Drive in Winter

Learning to drive at any time of year is going to be a daunting prospect. You’ve got so much to learn and out on the roads in the real world, other experienced drivers won’t necessarily give you the respect you need as a new driver to learn and perform manoeuvres in your own time. However, there’s no time like the present, especially when it comes to learning to drive, so that you can get your feeling of independence.

Time behind the wheel is always going to be important, especially during the early days of your driving career, and whether you’re Driving in winterlearning in the car you’ve just bought from a garage such as that you’ve saved up for over the years or in your parent’s car, you need to get the exposure to driving on the roads. The winter months present a whole range of challenges such as slippery conditions and low light, but if you can handle that with a fair amount of practice you could handle just about anything.

Or at least that is how you should look at it. At some point in your driving career, you are likely to come across harsh weather conditions that make driving difficult. Weather it’s driving rain or howling winds, snow on your driveway or ice developing in puddles that have frozen overnight, driving can be – and regularly is – difficult. During your first year of driving independently, you’re likely to encounter situations that even your lessons can’t prepare you for, so it’s vital that you attempt to drive in as many scenarios as is safe to do so. Obviously, heading out through several feet of snow would be a risk to your safety and not advisable, but don’t be put off by certain conditions, it’s all good practice.

There is also the opportunity to develop your skills at driving in the dark while under supervision. The days are much shorter during the winter months, and you often find that even during the ‘peak’ daylight hours, you’re driving in reduced light. This will stand you in a great position for when it comes to driving in the dark on your own because you will have had exposure to those conditions, helping you to understand how to act, what you need to do, and to learn from an experienced instructor or driver (if you’re learning with your parents or a friend).

The solution to driving in difficult conditions is not to have fast reactions to help yourself to steer out of the way of other road users who have lost control, or to stay on the road if you yourself have lost control; but it is in fact to anticipate problems and to solve them before they arise. It’s been estimated that the majority of accidents that occur could be avoided with one extra second to react, and this extra second could gained “in the head” by anticipating what other road users are doing or going to do, and adapting your own driving accordingly. In the wintery conditions, you should be giving other road users extra time by increasing the gap to the cars in front and behind, so by adding another second you’ll be naturally providing yourself with extra time both during the poor conditions and also when they improve.

To help you out a little bit, there are some things you need to know about driving in the winter –

  • If your wheels start to skid on the ice, don’t panic. Just keep your eyes on where you want to go and avoid trying to slam on the brakes. Steer into the skid (the direction in which you’re sliding) as this will counter the sliding.
  • If you do skid, make sure that you start off slowly again otherwise you risk further skidding.
  • Make sure that your tyres are in good condition, as this will give you as much traction on the road as is possible to obtain.

Amanda Walters – This article was written by Amanda Walters, an experienced freelance writer and regular contributor to Huffington Post. Follow her here: @Amanda_W84

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