Driving in winter can be very different than at other times of the year. Adverse weather conditions and longer periods of darkness makes driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, as we have found out over recent winters, with prolonged periods of heavy snow. Take some time to consider how it affects your driving, drive with the current conditions in mind!

Journey Checklist

  • Check the forecast and road conditions
  • Leave extra time for your journey if travel conditions are poor
  • Delay your journey if the weather becomes severe
  • Ensure that you have done your vehicle safety checks 

Keep a winter kit in the car at all times

  • Prepare for the worst by keeping warm clothes, a blanket, plus food and water in the car.
  • A long wait in the cold for a breakdown pick-up will be all the more comfortable with these at hand.

Leave enough time to de-ice your car before work

  • Set aside some time to thoroughly de-ice your car.
  • Driving with snow or ice may potentially be a criminal offence if driving under reduced visibility, remove all snow-fall from the roof of your car before setting off on your journey.
  • Make sure you leave enough time before work to properly de-ice every window in your car.

Don’t underestimate winter sun

  • Low levels in winter can be dangerous, seriously affecting your visibility.

When snow hits, take it slow

  • When driving in snow, accelerate gently, using low revs.
  • To avoid skidding, try pulling away in second gear, and avoid braking suddenly, which could lock up your wheels.
  • As well as taking it slow, give yourself more space on the road – you may need 10 times the normal gap between you and the car in front.

Check your fog lights before every journey

  • Use your headlights when visibility is less than 100 metres. Only use rear fog lights when visibility is reduced and turn them off as soon as it improves. If visibility is limited, wind down windows at junctions to listen out for approaching traffic.

Don’t rely on your phone

  • A phone light won’t always give you enough visibility, and bad service may prevent you pinpointing your location. Instead, keep a torch and a Sat Nav or paper road atlas in your car.
  • Preserve your phone for making emergency calls.

Know how to react when a storm hits

  • Avoid travelling until a storm has cleared.
  • Stick to main roads if possible where you are less likely to encounter fallen branches and flooding.
  • Grip your steering wheel tightly to keep control of your vehicle through gusts of wind, and keep an eye out for gaps between trees or buildings, where you are more likely to encounter side winds.

Keep your tyres in check

  • In icy and rainy conditions it’s even more important to have tyres with enough grip.
  • Check the condition of your tyres (including the spare) for the correct pressure, as well as for their tread depth – which should, by law, be at least 1.6mm for cars. Consider replacing them before they get to this depth.