How to Drive Safely on Winter Roads

1 October 2021

In the winter, when road conditions are difficult, breakdowns and accidents are more prevalent. Here are some of our best winter driving advice for remaining safe on snowy and slippery roadways.

Driving safely in snowy conditions

When there is snow, ice, or sleet on the roads, it can be dangerous. Our first piece of advice is to take it slowly. When it's icy, stopping distances can be ten times longer. Driving on ice and snow requires gentle moves and lower speeds.

If you have a cold and are taking any medicine that could make you drowsy, don't drive during the winter cold season. It may have an impact on your reaction times.

Before you start a journey

  • Winter journeys should be planned ahead of time.
  • Routes should be planned around important roads, which are more likely to be ploughed and grated.
  • To give yourself enough time to de-ice the car, try to get up at least 10 minutes early.
  • To avoid slipping your foot on the pedals, drive in comfortable, dry shoes.
  • Check your fuel levels; you should have at least a quarter of a tank in case of delays.
  • Using a scraper and de-icer, clear all windows and wait until the windscreen is completely de-iced.
  • Check your handbook if you drive an automatic; some include a winter setting or advocate selecting '2' in slick conditions.

Driving in slippery conditions

  • To avoid wheel-spin, pull away in second gear, slowly letting your foot off the clutch.
  • If you must use your brakes, do so gradually.
  • When driving uphill, give lots of space between cars or wait till the road is empty so you don't have to stop halfway up.
  • Maintain a consistent speed and avoid changing gears on the climb.
  • When driving downhill, slow down before of the hill, shift into a low gear, and prevent braking.
  • After the car in front of you, leave as much space as possible.

What to do if you get stuck in snow

  • Straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels if you become trapped.
  • To give the tyres some traction, place a bag or an old rug in front of them.

Clean your windows of snow

Don't drive with only a little portion of the windscreen visible. Before you leave, make sure all of your windows are free of ice, snow, and dampness.

  • To avoid a fine, keep the windscreen and other glass free of dirt and snow.
  • Snow on the roof should be cleared since it can fall onto the windscreen and obstruct your view.
  • Air conditioning de-mists the screen more quickly and decreases condensation.
  • Wiper blades that are worn or broken should be replaced.
  • If there's a chance of frost, don't park with your wipers on auto. When you switch the ignition on after the blades have frozen to the screen, you risk damaging the blades or wiper motor.
  • To prevent your screenwash from freezing, add a suitable additive to it.

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