January 2012 – As the UK Met Office issues warnings of frequent and occasionally heavy snow showers likely across the north and northwest of Scotland later this week, Europcar, the leader in car hire services in Europe is urging drivers to make use of its winter motoring advice.

    “So far this winter, UK motorists have had it relatively easy with mild temperatures and only small pockets of bad weather”, said Ken McCall, Managing Director, Europcar UK Group.

    “However that also means that we’ve been lulled into a false sense of security – so when bad weather does arrive we could be more easily caught out. We therefore thought it was worth offering motorists some useful tips on Winter driving. In particular, we think these tips will be useful for people hiring a car because they may feel less confident in an unfamiliar vehicle.

    “Car hire is, however, a great solution for motorists who may feel that they would like to have a more reliable vehicle than their own – perhaps if theirs is older. A hire car from Europcar will be fully maintained, safe, reliable and covered by 24 hour roadside assistance.”

    Europcar’s Winter Driving Advice

    • Allow plenty of time for journeys and make sure you have a full tank of petrol before starting off – just in case you need to take a more circuitous route
    • If it’s before 8am or after 3.30pm before starting the engine and moving off, make sure your eyes have become accustomed to the dark
    • Make sure all the windows are clear of snow, properly de-iced and de-misted before you set out
    • Remember your sunglasses to avoid glare from low winter sun
    • Be aware of black ice – most commonly found in areas that are shadowed from sun
    • Twilight is a particularly hazardous time for driving, so take extra care
    • Don’t hit the brakes if your car starts to skid, ease back on the accelerator and try to steer the car in the direction of the skid
    • If you get stuck, clear snow from around the wheels to give the car a chance to grip on the road. Try using a bit of old carpet to give better traction
    • Watch out for fog and use fog lights, but remember to switch them off again when they are no longer needed
    • Allow for a greater braking distance
    • Watch your speed and remember that cyclists and pedestrians will be less visible
    • Be prepared to cancel a journey. Listen out for weather warnings and act appropriately
    • Be aware of the danger of getting stranded – especially if you are heading somewhere remote. Take warm clothing and consider stopping at a hotel for the night rather than pressing on
    • Ensure the windscreen washer is topped up
    • Always keep a bottle of water and food, such as chocolate, just in case you breakdown