Winter is not exactly the most popular season for car drivers. The roads are often (very) slippery, the mornings are often freezing cold, leaving your fogged-up windows in need of scraping, and the low light limits visibility. Rain and fog are also commonplace during this season. Still, as a driver, there are several tips available to make things safer.
’Firstly, you have to ensure that you are visible enough in traffic’, says Michiel Claus, Fleet Team Leader at Dockx Rental. ‘For example, check whether all lights are working properly. Additional reflectors and/or reflective strips are provided for trucks and vans to increase visibility.’
As a driver, don't walk on thin ice
Then there is the issue of slippery conditions on the road. This increases the risk of skidding, longer braking distances and collisions. ‘The most important thing here is defensive driving’, Michiel continues. ‘And this mainly comes down to keeping a sufficient distance from the vehicle ahead and limiting your speed.’
And what about winter tyres? Are these an absolute must for winter driving? ‘Winter tyres can be quite helpful’, asserts Michiel. ‘Handling on cold and slippery road surfaces is improved, while braking distance is significantly shortened. Please note that winter tyres are not provided as standard on all Dockx vehicles, rather on a certain percentage of the fleet and/or at customer's request. They are often included when it comes to ski trips."
Better to be safe than sorry
It remains the mother of all warnings: be prepared ahead of time, so that you are not faced with a fait accompli down the road. In other words, better to be safe than sorry. ‘If you drive a diesel, be sure to allow the engine heater to do its job’, Michiel explains. ‘Only when the relevant symbol (a yellow coil, ed.) has disappeared from the dashboard has the engine heater done its job. Also, be sure to avoid too high revving of the engine when it has not yet warmed up, and absolutely avoid any fast corners and keeping too little distance between you and the car in front. What’s more, the condition and tread of your tyres is vital. Finally, be sure to check that your lights are in full working order and that the wipers are not wearing.’
Ultimately, the greatest responsibility lies not with the car itself, but with the driver. To sum up, Fleet Team Leader Michiel concludes that you should ‘always take extra care and drive defensively on slippery or dark roads’.