During the winter months, dark evenings and wet, windy weather can make driving very dangerous. Following these seven steps should help ensure your stay safe on the roads this season.

According to the MET Office Britain has a wintry week of weather ahead. Temperatures are predicted to drop well below freezing and some parts of the country may even experience a light sprinkling of snow.

These types of weather conditions can cause havoc on the roads for motorists. And with the Christmas period just around the corner, many people will be travelling longer distances than usual to visit friends and family.

As a result the number of car insurance claims made tend to increase around this time of year.

To help ensure both you and your car stay out of harm’s way this winter, here are seven safety steps you should carry out before you set off.

1. Get your car serviced

The peace of mind a professional check could offer is well worth paying for.

Therefore before the winter weather gets any worse, it’s a good idea to book your car into a garage and have it looked over by a mechanic.

Fixing any mechanical problems now will hopefully reduce the risk you will break down at a later date.

2. Pump up your tyres

At this time of year, heavy rain, snow and ice can make the roads lethal for motorists.

To help lower the risk of skidding, check both your car's tyre condition and pressure are correct before you drive. The current legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, but during the winter months it is a sensible idea to ensure your tyres have at least 3mm of tread depth.

This should also help increase your car's fuel efficiency and lower your petrol costs as you won’t have to put your foot down as hard on the accelerator.

3. Look after your lights

Dark mornings and dark evenings can make driving extremely dangerous. It is therefore crucial to ensure all your lights are clean and working properly. Always replace any broken bulbs immediately.

If you don't, you will not only find it difficult to see the road clearly, you run the risk of not being seen by other drivers. Make sure you know where your front and back fog lights are.

4. Fill up your fuel

Before you hit the road, make sure you have sufficient fuel in the tank. The last thing you want in the cold weather is to run out of petrol and be stuck on the side of the road somewhere.

It is also important to check you have the right level of oil in your car, and top it up if it gets too low.

5. Ensure you can see

Winter weather can make it more difficult to see clearly when you are driving.

To help lower the risk of having an accident always make sure the windscreen is clean and clear, you have plenty of screenwash and your wiper blades are in good condition.

If your windows are covered in frost, make sure you de-ice them before driving and don’t forget to clear your mirrors too.

When you're warming up your car, never leave your car unattended with the keys in the ignition and the doors unlocked. You only need to turn your back for a second and an opportunist thief could jump in and drive off.

6. Be prepared

It is a sensible idea to put together an emergency winter survival kit so that you are prepared should you break down or have an accident. Remember to include a torch, warm clothes, blankets, food, ice scraper and a first aid kit.

It's also important to always carry a fully charged mobile phone and the number of your car breakdown service with you so that you can call for help should you need it.

7. Drive safely

Finally, make sure you take extra care on the roads.

Allow more time for journeys and try to avoid rushing. Keep a safe distance from the car in front, and leave more time to brake and accelerate in wet or icy conditions.

If there is snow and ice on the roads, use high gears to reduce the need for sudden deceleration or acceleration. And in the fog watch your speed as fog can give the impression of slow motion in oncoming traffic.

If you can it's a good idea to avoid driving in the dark and bad weather altogether as the number of accidents increase during these conditions. Wherever possible try to use major routes which have been gritted or salted.

Be aware that not everyone on the road will be experienced in driving in these types of conditions so remain alert at all times.

Victoria Bischoff is a writer for BeatThatQuote.com

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