It’s getting colder and it will soon be winter. There may be some things you out of habit but do you actually need to do them? Let’s see which winter driving myths are true or false.
In cold weather you need to let the engine idle
No, idling is bad, not only for the environment but also your health and wallet. The engine emits carbon monoxide and if the vehicle is stationary then you breathe more of it in plus fuel is consumed quicker.
In the past you may have needed to “warm up” the car, especially when the carburetor didn’t work well in freezing temperatures but modern cars are either computer controlled or fuel injected and compensate for the difference in temperature to make it work immediately.
Even worse is the risk of having your car stolen. If it is stolen whilst the engine is idling, you won’t be covered by your insurance.
Your windscreen needs to be fully de-iced
Rule 229 of the Highway Code states:
Before you set off
• you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows
• you MUST ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legible
• make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly
• remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users
• check your planned route is clear of delays and that no further snowfalls or severe weather are predicted.
It’s Illegal to drive in wellies
No, it’s not illegal to drive in wellies but you do need to make sure that you are in control of your vehicle as it could invalidate your car insurance.
Handbrakes could cause the opposite affect if used on snow or ice. It overrides the anti-lock braking system which decreases the vehicle’s capacity to stop. There’s a chance the handbrake could freeze on release in cold weather too.
It’s safe to overtake slower drivers
It might be frustrating for the vehicle in front to be going slow, you may even think they are being a little over cautious. If you are stuck behind a snow plough then it is best to stay behind as you don’t know what they are dealing with or clearing.
You must carry an emergency winter driving kit in your boot
By law, you are not required to carry an emergency kit in your boot. However it is a really good idea and it should include a shovel, torch, blanket, hi-vis vest, food and drink, de-icer and scraper, boots and a fully charged mobile phone.
For more advice on preparing your car for driving this winter, you might be interested in the following articles: