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Sally Wilson

Sally is a key member of the MoneyMaxim editorial team. She is a frequent hire-car user and often goes on holiday with her family. With an interest in getting great value for money, Sally shares her hints and tips for travelling and insurance.

Sally Wilson is one of our Team of Experts

Car breakdown cover can be vital in the winter months.

Is your car insurance up to the challenge of icy roads too?

driving in snow

At this time of year the weather can often take a turn for the worse. From one day to the next the temperature can change and it is important to be prepared especially if you plan to drive. With the cold weather, breakdowns are on the increase so making sure that you have breakdown cover could give you some comfort this winter.

With the unpredictable weather there is unfortunately also a rise in the number of accidents on the roads. With our car insurance comparison service we can help you find the right car insurance for you at a price to suit you.

Driving in bad weather is not easy and if possible delay a journey until the weather improves. If you have to travel, allow yourself extra time and let someone know what your plans are. In all inclement weather you should reduce your speed. Travelling at slower speeds allows more time for driving adjustments and will reduce the chances of an accident. Also leave a greater distance between yourself and the car in front as often braking ability is hampered in rain or snow and visibility can be a problem.

  • Fog - Dipped headlights must be used when visibility is less than 100m. If you have automatic headlights, do not presume they will come on as sometimes the light is still too bright despite the fog. Know how to turn on your fog lights if they are needed. Avoid using high beams as they can reflect off water droplets and make vision worse. If necessary at junctions wind down a window to listen for traffic. Avoid overtaking and changing lanes - you need to be patient! And watch out for parked cars, pedestrians and cyclists in fog as they will be harder to spot.

  • Snow - Avoid harsh braking when the roads are covered in snow or ice. Even if you skid, it is better to ease off the accelerator to slow down rather than to brake firmly. Turn off automatic windscreen wipers before you start as, if they are frozen, you can ruin them. Make sure you clear all snow from your car, including the roof, before you set off. Beware - driving in the tracks of other cars can be more slippery due to ice so take care. When planning your route it is better to stick to the main roads as they are more likely to be gritted.

  • Rain - Dipped headlights may be necessary if visibility is poor but don't use fog lights as they may dazzle other drivers and the rear ones can disguise brake lights. Watch out for spray from larger vehicles and be considerate of other road users and pedestrians when you drive through water. In case any standing water is deep, drive at a steady speed to avoid creating a wave that could get into your engine. If you find the car aquaplaning, do not brake as it can make the situation worse. Ease off the accelerator until the car slows and comes under control.

  • Wind - It may seem less obvious that wind can be a danger but a strong gust particularly in exposed areas can easily push a car off course. Look out for high-sided vehicles and caravans which are at greater risk. If you have added a roof box to your car you may notice the difference if the wind picks up. Always have a firm grip of the steering wheel in breezy weather and give cyclists and motorcyclists extra room. Watch out for debris that may have blown into the road and, to protect your car, avoid parking it under a tree where branches may fall.

Bad weather is never a time to rush a journey. Being prepared is key. The AA have a winter checklist which can help you ensure that you have everything you need to travel safely over this period. Always check radio services for road closures and travel advice especially if you are travelling long distances. If you are travelling to Europe we can also help with European Breakdown Insurance for that extra peace of mind.

Image courtesy of: John Brightly at Geograph.org.uk