If you have a long commute to work every day, it can feel like a slog at the best of times. When winter arrives, though, it often becomes much more difficult – think driving both to and from work in the dark, as well as battling to chisel ice off the windows while your hands go numb and negotiating terrible weather. Sorry, that’s perhaps not a very happy image!

The good news is that there’s a lot you can to make driving in the winter safer and more pleasant. Ok, it still might not be a huge amount of fun (though I suppose it depends what you’re into!), but you can rest safe in the knowledge that should you run into any problems you will be well prepared.

What you should have in the car

One of the most important things to remember when commuting in the winter is that the car should be well stocked with everything you would need in an emergency. Often, people take care to do this when making one-off long journeys, but when you commute daily it can be easy to let this fall by the wayside.

The key is keep the crucial pieces of kit – such as a hazard warning triangle, de-icer, scraper, torch, blankets and a few extra pieces of warm clothing, like fleeces – in the boot at all times. Then, when you set off each morning, you can add things like a thermos of hot tea (which will be a godsend if you get caught in a long jam in the cold!), a few bottles of water and some snacks.

I’d also make sure you have a good old-fashioned map stowed away somewhere easily accessible too. Even if you have a decent satnav, a paper map can save the day in the event you run out of power and you’re somewhere unfamiliar.

Key things to remember when driving on winter roads

Of course, one of the most obvious issues of driving on winter roads is the fact that conditions are often bad. So, you’ll need to adapt your driving accordingly – for the most part, this involves slowing down, increasing your distance from the car in front and being extra vigilant.

Fog

Fog is perhaps the most hazardous condition. Check your lights are working before you travel and make sure you use them. It’s also a good idea to turn off your music and use your ears to help you detect potential hazards or problems developing up ahead.

Ice or Snow

When it’s icy or snowy, meanwhile, you’ll need to leave plenty of room between you and your fellow drivers, since your stopping distances can be a huge ten times longer than normal. You should also remember not to accelerate suddenly or slam on the brakes – tap them instead to prevent skidding.

Wake up!

I can’t stress enough how important feeling wide awake and alert is. Of course, I know it’s vital when driving no matter what the season, but I find when it’s dark for so long it’s easy to become even sleepier.

So, take regular breaks and maybe bring a nice flask of coffee or tea along with you – that should certainly make the commute more pleasant. It’s also worth considering having an oxygen canister stored in the car too. You can inhale oxygen-enriched air from these – something that can revitalise you and make you feel more awake.

Prevention is better than cure

Lastly, it’s a good idea to put your car in for a full service when winter arrives. This is because things like tyre pressure, tread depth, working lights and brake sensitivity are all the more crucial when tackling bad conditions.

Got any tips for having a safe commute in the winter? Leave a comment and share your wisdom!