Pre-load your smartphone with essential apps for winter driving

Essential winter driving apps for your phone

Pre-load your smartphone with essential apps for winter driving

Pre-load your smartphone with essential apps for winter driving

Winter is coming, so there’s no better time to pre-load your smartphone with the apps you’ll need to keep yourself and family safe on the road as weather conditions deteriorate.

Follow the Crawley Down Group’s guide to essential winter driving apps.

 Hands-Free Traffic Talker

Traffic news straight to your ears

Traffic news straight to your ears

What is it: Provided in association with the Highways Agency, the Hand-Free Traffic Talker app will automatically keep you updated with traffic problems as you head towards them. You set how many miles radius you want alerts for. No need to register an account, simply turn it on and let your phone’s built-in GPS tech stream relevant traffic problems direct to your car. You won’t need to be distracted by checking your phone, either – the alerts are automatically spoken as you drive. The app will stream notifications of problems on motorways and major A-roads throughout England. It will also broadcast alerts and updates on earlier issues.
How much: Free
Get it for Android and iOS

Battery Doctor… Extend your phone’s battery life

Keep your battery full of juice

Keep your battery full of juice

What is it: Staying in touch is important when heading out in poor driving conditions, so always ensure your phone if fully charged. Most people will have a phone charger, but one of the big problems associated with cold weather is a flat battery – so charging your phone won’t be an option. However, downloading an app such as Battery Doctor will help keep your device powered-up for longer. It ensures your handset gets a proper, full charge when your top it up with a unique three-cycle system. It also has a task killer that stops power-sapping apps that drain power while not in use. Must-have for winter driving.
How much: Free
Get it here for Android
Get it for iPhone 

Gaugemap.co.uk… flood map

Are rivers about to flood on your route?

Are rivers about to flood on your route?

What is it: As we’ve seen in the UK, flash floods can cause big problems for motorists. However,  drivers can help avoid the risk of being caught out by logging on to Gaugemap.co.uk and using the interactive map to search for rivers on their planned journey. Amazingly, motorists can then follow the individual rivers on Twitter and receive live updates on river levels and flood risks as they drive. Make friends with rivers on your route whenever you travel.
How much: Free
Get it for you your phone: Go to www.gaugemap.co.uk then follow rivers on your Twitter app.

Red Cross First Aid

First aid if the worst should happen

First aid if the worst should happen

Bad weather and darker evenings can increase the chance of being injured in a road accident, but would you know how to help in the event of an accident? This app features simple, easy advice on everyday first aid scenarios as well as how to prepare for emergencies from severe winter weather to road traffic accidents. Use the videos and step-by-step guides to help you stay safe and help others. The information is all hosted locally, so you won’t need an internet connection to access it in the event of an emergency.
How much: Free
Get it here for Android and iOS 

Witness Driving

Record incidents this wonter

Record incidents this wonter

What is it: The one-stop shop for recording accident information and potentially saving  thousands in spurious insurance claims. Mount your phone on the dashboard to video your trip – recording any incidents that happen when driving. The app also has a section to record the names and addresses of witnesses, take photos and pinpoint the exact location through GPS. All this information can then be shared with your insurer and will greatly help you win no-fault claims against you.
How much: £0.69p
Get it here for Android
Get it here for iPhone 

Fill That Hole… pothole reporting

Kill potholes on your route

Kill potholes on your route

What is it: Like eruptions on the face of a hormonal teenager, the winter scourge of potholes will soon be scarring the UK’s highways and byways while simultaneously attacking wheels and suspension throughout the nation. Download this app and help ensure that others stay safe and that the relevant authority is made aware of the defect  – forcing it to act. You can also use the app to see if the pothole that damaged your car had already been reported – meaning you could be entitled to compensation. The app lets you take photos, get a GPS fix on the hole’s location and automatically send a report to the responsible authority.
How much: Free
Get it here for iPhone 

Staysafe Tracker… make sure someone knows where you are

Let someone track your progress

Let someone track your progress

What is it: Heading out on a road trip in winter weather, then this GPS tracker app will ensure that a family member or friend can keep an eye on your progress to make sure you’ve not hit problems. From breaking down or being trapped by a flood in remote locations, this app will help alert others to your predicament – even when you don’t have a phone signal. The tracker uses separate GPS technology. It will automatically email or text your location to an ‘emergency’ contact (defined by you) if you fail to check-in as expected. An exact GPS location will be provided so that you can be instantly located.
How much: £4.99
Get it here for Android 
Get it here for iOS 

 Sunrise and Sunset app

Plan your trip around danger times

Plan your trip around danger times

What is it: Driving during sunrise and sunset can be the most dangerous times to be on the road. The transition from autumn to winter has been identified as one of the riskiest periods, with blinding sunsets and poor light contributing to 3000 accidents and 36 deaths each year in the UK. The AA also points out that the rate of head-on crashes involving lorries nearly quadruples in twilight conditions.This app gives exact times of sunset and sunrise in locations of your choice. Get information on any date of year. A great preventative tool that really can make your driving easier and safer.
How much: £free
Get it here for iPhone
Get alternative app here for Android 

UK Bus checker

We all need a plan B

We all need a plan B

What is it: Swapping your car for a bus and mingling with fellow passengers and their various ailments isn’t something we’d recommend, but bad weather and cars that won’t start mean it’s always good to have a plan B for urgent travel… and buses could be the answer. Generally more reliable than train, they also cut thought traffic with the help of dedicated lanes and bus-only routes to bypass congestion hotspots. So, if the worst happens and you need to take one, this app covers more than 300,000 bus stops in 35 UK cities, along with route maps and an alert that rings as you approach your stop.
How much: £2.49
Get it here for various devices

What Gas… fuel finder and prices

Don't run out of fuel again

Don’t run out of fuel again

What is it: Running out of fuel in winter can be extremely dangerous as temperatures plummet – which is why you should fill-up your app arsenal with the What Gas fuel finder. Use the app to find the nearest petrol stations selling petrol, diesel, and LPG. No more panic as the needle nudges zero.
How much: £free
Get it here for Android
Get it here for iOS 

Emergency phone charging

You smartphone is a vital piece of kit for any driver heading out in extreme weather conditions, so you need to make sure it remains charged at all time. Relying on your car battery to keep it topped-up is can be risky – cold weather and component failure can often result in it going flat. Don’t risk being left without a power source for your phone – check out our alternative charging options here.

Stuck? How to escape mud and snow

As winter approaches, the chance of getting your vehicle stuck in snow and mud increases, so here’s our guide to keeping your car moving…

  • Stay calm: While everyone else is up to their axles in the brown stuff, staying calm and assessing the situation will help ensure you have the best chance of escape.
  • Footwear: Make sure you swap your mud-encrusted wellies for clean, dry shoes when you get behind the wheel. Slimy footwear could result in slipping off the pedals and making a bad situation far worse.
  • Avoid the spin: Jumping into your jalopy and burying the accelerator will only ensure you go down rather than forward. Aid your chances of gaining traction by pulling away in second gear. This will reduce the chance of wheelspin. If you’re driving a larger automatic, select ‘D2’.
  • Traction action: Taking some ‘traction aid’ with you will help keep your car moving while others are left wallowing in the slime. Pack your car with old cardboard or bags of cat litter. You can then place this around your ‘drive’ wheels to improve traction. You can even buy specially designed gadgets for this, such as these ‘escape tracks’ from the RAC.
  • Keep on rolling: Once you gain traction, keep moving. Remain in a low gear and keep throttle inputs to an absolute minimum.
  • Tramlines: It might be tempting to follow tramlines created by other vehicles, but these will be full of mud and deep, invisible holes just waiting to beach your vehicle.
  • Towing: Make sure you know where your car’s towing eye is before you set off. Many are kept with the jack, but you’ll need to make sure yours is where it should be. If not, get a new one before you travel. Also, before you get going, make sure you speak to the towing driver and plan your route. If you’re a member of the AA, the motoring organisation operates a Special Operations Response Team (AA SORT) which will come and extricate you from just about any situation .

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