For those preparing to beat the blues with a ski break this winter, it may also be time to think about how you’ll tackle driving in snow and icy conditions before you hire a car for your fly-drive holiday. With 11% of road accidents in 2009* attributed to adverse weather, it pays to be prepared when out on the roads in wintery conditions. While many UK drivers take precautions while driving domestically, they are often not prepared for using a rental car abroad.
According to Anel Bruns, Product Manager at leading car hire comparison site carhiremarket.com, many UK travellers are missing a trick when it comes to being ready for driving a hire car in bad conditions or on unfamiliar roads: “If you’re hiring a car this winter, there are a few things you should consider before driving away. Although your hire car will be fully prepared for driving – good tyre pressures, antifreeze and screen wash - these aren’t the only factors to safe driving in harsh conditions.
carhiremarket.com has put together a set of helpful hints to help winter travellers be prepared, stay safe and enjoy their car hire experience.
1. While the roads may seem clear, there could be black ice around, look out for signs and likely trouble spots such as:
* Sudden changes in road elevation or camber
* Items that will cover the road such as a bridge
* Objects at the side of the road that create shade
* Areas that are seldom subject to traffic
2. Your car hire provider should also help to keep you safe. Ensure you have an emergency kit which includes warning triangles and high visibility vests! This is a legal requirement in many EU countries. If your hire company provides extras, it is always a good idea to invest in winter tyres and snow chains.
3. Take an emergency bag which can be left in the car, it is good practice to carry a small blanket, non-perishable food such as chocolate, and sunglasses – low sun in the winter combined with snowy conditions can produce powerful glare that makes visibility poor.
4. Always check the roads before travelling. Ask the hire depot if there are any roads that are likely to be closed during bad weather when you pick the car up, a little local knowledge goes a long way
5. Clear any snow off the vehicle roof before you drive. It can slip down over the windscreen and obscure your view
6. Avoid playing loud music and listen to the sounds of your car. If your tyres are making hardly any noise on the road, it could be a sign that you’re driving on ice
7. Try to avoid sudden braking. Use gear control and engine breaking to slow yourself down first
8. If you do find yourself on ice or find the steering is very light, gently rocking your steering wheel from side to side will help your tyres get a better grip
9. Make sure your hire car has enough petrol. You never know how long you may be out if bad weather sets in! If there’s too little petrol in the tank the fuel line could freeze
10. Avoid using cruise control. Using your brakes to deactivate the cruise control can increase the chances cause of skidding