As classics owners across the country prepare their cars for the winter months ahead, Footman James braces itself for the rise in insurance claims that typically occurs at this time of year.

    With the clocks going back, wet weather, freezing temperatures and even snow almost certainly on the horizon, Footman James has some simple advice for motorists on how to stay safe during the winter weather.

    Before you leave home:

    • Make sure you have all the accident and breakdown telephone numbers that you need in your car, or stored in your mobile phone
    • Make sure your mobile phone battery is fully charged, just in case, and that you have other essential emergency equipment such as warm clothes, wellies, blanket, shovel, torch, first aid kit, spare tyre and ‘jump leads’
    • While under inflated tyres can cause handling problems, over inflated tyres are just as much of a hazard on icy roads
    • Consider fitting winter tyres to your vehicle.   Footman James does not consider this to be a modification and will not increase your premium as a result, so it is worth swapping your tyres if you can afford it.  You should let your insurer know that you have swapped your tyres though, just in case the value of your car increases as a result.
    • Check the windscreen washer fluid and, when topping up, use screenwash rather than tap water, which will freeze.  Ask yourself, do your wipers work well enough?
    • Allow a few extra minutes in the morning to de-ice and de-mist fully before hitting the roads (but do not leave your car unattended with the engine running when de-icing and de-misting!)
    • Make sure your headlights are clean
    • Only travel in snow and icy conditions if it is absolutely necessary

    Once on the roads  

    • Try to stick to trunk and main roads which are more likely to have been gritted
    • It can take ten times longer to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road, so drive slowly, allowing extra room to slow down and stop
    • Avoid harsh braking and acceleration
    • To brake on ice and snow without locking your wheels, get into a low gear earlier than normal, allow your speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently
    • If you do start to skid, ease off the accelerator but do not brake suddenly
    • When it is snowing, raining and murky – even if it is the middle of the day – always use dipped headlights, not sidelights, so that you can be seen by other road users