Winter undoubtedly brings some pretty challenging driving conditions, but spring in the UK is the one season that can subject you to every weather condition on the same day. Hopefully, you can wave goodbye to early mornings spent defrosting the car, but the lighter evenings and warmer days can bring some dangers of their own. Here are our spring driving tips to keep you and your smart car safe this spring.
- April Showers
Rain is an all too familiar occurrence throughout the year, but April is the month most associated with sudden downpours. Heavy rain that follows a dry spell can be particularly treacherous for drivers, with rainwater mixing with contaminants such as oil and grease left on the road. The result is slippery road surfaces and stopping distances that increase significantly.
Spring driving tip: After heavy use during the winter, the start of spring is the perfect time to give your windscreen wipers a health check. Make sure your wipers are clean and check the blades for wear and tear. If they leave streaks of water across the glass or judder, they need replacing. You should also use screenwash rather than just water to help maintain your visibility.
- Gusting winds
It’s not just torrential rain that can cause problems in the spring. It’s also storm season in the UK, with heavy winds introducing a number of new hazards to look out for. Branches, debris from loose loads and other objects can appear in the road. You should also take particular care in built-up areas, with sudden gusts potentially pushing cyclists, other vehicles or even pedestrians into your path.
Spring driving tip: In strong winds, try to avoid overcompensating with your steering. Slowing down will give you more time to react to unexpected hazards and reduce your stopping distances.
The heavy winter weather can take its toll on our roads and create new potholes in areas they’ve not been before. Spring showers can then fill them with water to make them more difficult to see. Hit a pothole at high speed and it can cause substantial damage such as punctured tyres, bent wheel rims, suspension damage, poor alignment and problems with your exhaust.
Spring driving tip: Slow down. The faster you hit a pothole, the more damage it will do. If you do hit a pothole, avoid the temptation to brake as that places extra stress on the suspension and increases the likelihood of damaging your car. Keeping your tyres inflated will also reduce the risk of a puncture or blowout.
- Low sun
After a long winter, it’s certainly good to see the sun again, but being greeted by a very low sun during the morning and evening rush hour can seriously reduce the visibility of you and other drivers.
Spring driving tip: Keeping your windscreen clean, wearing sunglasses and using the overhead visor can all reduce the glare and improve visibility at sunrise and sunset. The most important tip is to slow down to give yourself more time to react to potential hazards you might not see until the last minute.
Spring showers create pools of surface water on the roads that can lead to aquaplaning. Aquaplaning occurs when a film of water builds up between the tyres and the road surface, causing a temporary loss of steering, braking and power control. Aquaplaning is most likely to occur during the first ten minutes of light rainfall.
Spring driving tip: Keeping your speed low in wet conditions will help to reduce the risk of aquaplaning. However, if you find you have lost control of your car, try to keep calm. You should ease off the brakes, take your foot off the accelerator, keep a firm grip of the steering wheel and try not to steer. Once the tyres regain traction, you will feel the steering return to normal.
Is your smart car ready for spring?