Winter Driving Laws

During winter, motoring becomes a little bit more difficult. This is thanks to a combination of weather factors, which in various ways might make your vehicle less fit for purpose, and drive down the overall standard of your driving.

In some cases, winter could even put you on the wrong side of the law. By anticipating these possibilities, and preparing for them, we can save ourselves considerable trouble.

So, what are the major things to watch for?

Dirty registration plate

When the roads are covered in slush and mud, a portion of this material can spatter up onto your vehicle. This can cause an accumulation of dirt, which, in some cases, can obscure the number on your registration plate. In most cases, drivers in this situation get off with a warning. But if the problem is particularly severe, you might find yourself treated as though the license plate were missing entirely. The maximum fine here is £1,000 – and thus, it’s better to be proactive and wipe the plate clean.

Clear windows and lights

Windscreens and headlights suffer from the same problem. The dirtier the headlights, in fact, the less light they’ll be able to cast. This is a special problem during winter, when visibility is already low.

Having snow and ice on your windscreen, and the top of your vehicle, will also cause a problem. It might fall off and restrict your visibility, or collide with another road user or pedestrian. There’s no clear law here, but if you’re seen as a danger to others you could be handed three points and a £60 fine. Set aside a few minutes before the start of every journey so that you can make sure that the car is kept clear.

Vehicle maintenance

The expansion and contraction that come with hot-cold cycling on winter mornings will break down the metal in your car, making mechanical failures more likely. Here, the best solution is preventative maintenance. Check your vehicle regularly for common signs of problems. Your tyres should be properly inflated, with the appropriate tread depth. In some cases, you might wish to switch to winter tyres – which come with more generous tread, and which are made from a more resilient form of rubber.

Wearing Appropriate Footwear to Drive

At this time of year, you might be tempted to wear heavy boots designed to keep your foot supported. This is great for walking through a snowbound forest, but not so good for driving, when you need proper flexibility in your ankles. So, swap shoes before setting out.

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