Reduce your car stopping distance in winter

 In Star Tech News

Think, brake, stop. Sounds simple right?  

Like many of you, I have had my licence longer than I’d like to remember and over the years, driving has become almost second nature. This feeling of familiarisation can be dangerous, especially during winter months when what were once easy drives, become treacherous and potentially life-changing with various factors such as; bad weather and unfavorable road conditions preventing normal braking distance being possible. 

If you think your car braking is not as good as it should be, please pop into Star Tech or Star Automotive for a free inspection. It goes without saying it’s better to be safe than sorry.  

Car stopping distances are made up of two components; braking distance and thinking distance. Stay safe this winter by understanding the factors that may affect your driving.  

Reduce your braking distance: 

Your braking distance is the distance it takes for your car to stop once the brakes are applied. This distance can be affected by several factors, the most common are outlined below: 

Tired Tyres 

As the only part of your car that has contact with the road, it’s not a surprise your tyres have a huge impact on your braking. During winter it is often recommended to change your tyres to winter tyres as these have improved tyre handling, braking and traction in dry, wet and snow conditions. Your usual all-season tyres may not be enough, especially if you live in or are expected to drive to areas where snow and ice are a regular occurrence. In these cases, a proper set of winter tyres is necessary. If you’re unsure, please do not hesitate to contact my team or pop into one of our service centres for advice.  

Signs that your tyres aren’t coping could include strange noises, when the tyre tread gets low it can scrub across the road rather than roll. Loss of traction when pulling away or braking, you may also experience a vibration due to uneven wear. 

Did you know the legal tread limit for tyres in 1.6mm, however in the winter I would recommend a depth of at least 3mm. 

Wicked Weather 

As expected, the winter weather can be unpredictable and this will impact your driving and stopping distances. Ice, more frequent storms and increased chances of rain, sleet and snow will make your journey more difficult and increase your stopping distances.  

Take care during bad weather by increasing the space between you and the car ahead of you, driving carefully in case of black ice and keeping your full concentration on the road when driving. 

Research suggests braking distances can be doubled in wet conditions – and multiplied by 10 on snow or ice. – Source: RAC.co.uk 

Low light 

Reduced visibility and fog is something we cannot always plan for, and can make other vehicles, side roads and potential obstacles less detectable on the road. Simple measures can be taken to reduce risks when driving in such weather, for example keeping a safe distance between you and the car ahead of you, especially on a motorway or fast-paced road. Also, make sure you use your brakes when slowing down to indicate to the car behind you to also reduce their speed. 

As written in the Highway Code, you are required to use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced, this is generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres ahead. You may also use front or rear fog lights but you MUST switch them off when visibility improves (see Rule 236). 

Car conditions 

The condition of your car can impact your braking distances; even something as simple as the number of people in your car can lengthen the stopping distance! More car specific components such as faulty or worn brakes or a lack of antifreeze can be easily checked by a qualified technician and should be a step you take before heading on long journeys over winter. If you would like our experienced technicians to have a look at your car, please get in touch!  

If you can’t get to one of our services centres, I would strongly recommend as a bear minimum you complete the following items on your car(s): 

  • Check the battery 
  • Top up coolant and antifreeze levels 
  • Check and clean your lights  
  • Carry a winter survival and breakdown kit   

Reduce your thinking distance: 

‘Thinking distance’ is the distance a car travels in the time it takes the driver to react to a situation.  

Avoid Dozy Driving 

The driver’s thinking time and distance can be heightened by a variety of influencers, of which many can be avoided! Common examples include: tiredness of the driver, driving at a faster speed, distractions from within the car, such as music and passengers, or being under the influence of certain drugs and alcohol.  

Keep your thinking distance to a minimum by making sure you’re alert when driving, staying within the recommended speed limit and reducing any distractions in the car. Finally, do not drive unless you are fully alert and able, no matter the situation or length of the journey.  

In summary, winter can be a tough period for driving so take extra care, plan your routes and allow more time! If you would like any advice on preparing your car for journeys in winter, whether it’s a quick call, check under the bonnet or to carry out a service ahead of a long drive, our expert technicians will make sure you’re in good hands.  

Call us on 01202 694758 or email us at info@star-tech.co.uk.  

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