Driving through a snow-covered winter wonderland can certainly be beautiful and scenic, but it’s also fraught with dangers; black ice, drifting snow and iced-up windscreens to name but a few.
Navigating our roads when the rain is lashing down or the wind is blowing a gale is less scenic, but can be equally challenging.
Fortunately many cars now have safety features designed to keep you, your passengers and other motorists safer on our winter roads.
Here are our top 5:
Skid Detection – Electronic Stability Programme – ESP
Loss of control, or having to control your car when it loses traction, either due to a flooded road surface, snow, ice or black ice, is most driver’s idea of a nightmare.
All the things you’ve been taught about how to steer into or out of a skid go out of your head as the prospect of losing control and crashing fills your mind.
ESP detects a loss of traction and applies braking to the necessary individual wheels, keeping you safer.
This type of stability system is credited as a life saver and has been compulsory on every car sold in the EU since 2014.
It reduce crashes which involve a car skidding or overturning by up to 59%; but, remember, like all driver assistance safety systems, it can only help if you’re driving at the right speed for the conditions.
ESC is also known as ESP, DSC, VDC, VSA, ASC and DSTC.
Automatic Braking – Automatic Emergency Braking – AEB
AEB could save your life – it’s that simple. Working by using sensors and sometimes radar and cameras, to detect obstacles in the road ahead; other vehicles, cyclists, pedestrians, the system then alerts the driver and if the driver doesn’t take action, then the system takes over applying the brakes for you.
This system is a genuine life-saver, not just for the driver, but also for other, more vulnerable, road-users, so not only are you keeping you and your passengers safe, but you’re also reducing the likelihood of hitting another less visible road-user.
This is a great safety aid at any time of the year, but even more so on murky, grey, winter days.
Heated Windscreen and Wing Mirrors
It’s a cold morning, your windscreen is thick with snow and your wing mirrors have a skating rinks worth of ice on them.
As ever you’re in a hurry to get on your way and you de-ice and clear only the amount of snow and ice necessary for you to get on your way.
Firstly the Highway Code says that you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your car and secondly, if your vision of the road ahead is purely through a porthole, then clearly you’re a danger both to yourselves and to everyone else using the road.
Having a heated windscreen and mirrors make like much, much easier; you can clear your car swiftly and effectively and importantly keep the ice at bay, stopping it re-forming.
Just because this is a less ‘techy’ feature doesn’t mean it’s any less important.
Driving in the dark can be a struggle in good weather; in winter weather it can be a real challenge.
Some manufacturers are now fitting their cars with ‘Night Vision’ as standard, but don’t worry this doesn’t necessitate you donning massive goggles!
The system uses a thermal imaging camera which gives the driver a heat-sensing view of the road ahead.
Things emitting heat such as cars and animals appear in bright white on the screen, but most impressive is that the system pinpoints and highlights people in yellow and in snowy or rainy weather the chances are the system will spot them before you do.
Heated Seats & Steering Wheel
You may wonder why we’re putting heated seats and steering wheel as safety features.
The truth is that driving whilst your teeth are chattering with cold is very distracting, if you’re shivering behind the wheel, then your attention will not be 100% on the road ahead; a heated drivers’ seat and steering wheels ensures comfort when you’re driving, which is essential in difficult driving conditions.
There are other driver assistance systems which help in all road conditions including Blind Spot Detection, Active Cruise Control and Lane Departure Assist.
All of these systems assist you in driving to the best of your ability on the UK’s increasingly crowded roads. Worth thinking about next time you change your car.
Article sponsored by Swansway Motor Group