Driving in Snow and Ice
Driving in snow and ice can be perilous. We take a look at some tips to stay safe
It might be the middle of March but it’s not quite time to put those thermals away just yet.
As the Beast from the East II arrives this weekend, we should all now be used to driving in cold icy conditions. However, it’s best not to take it for granted or become blazé about driving in treacherous conditions.
So, we’ve put a few of our favourite top tips of how to stay safe on the road when it’s icy and snowy undertyre.
Before you leave:
- Ask yourself whether you really need to make the journey or can it wait?
- Check that your car is in tip-top condition, that your lights and wipers are working, and that the anti-freeze is topped up.
- Check all your tyres including the spare (if you have one). Are they correctly inflated and each tyre should have at least 3mm of tread to cope best.
- Put on your winter tyres if you have any or pack your snow socks or snow chains.
See the latest snow weather forecast at UK Weather Forecast
- Know your car. Locate the rear screen demister, heater controls, headlights etc.
- Clear your car of all snow. You don’t want a block of snow sliding down your screen at the wrong time or for snow to flick off your car and impair the view of the driver behind. It is however now illegal to leave your car covered in snow when driving (41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988) so you might get a fine.
- Fully demist your windows on the inside, too.
- Leave extra time for your journey. Prepare to drive slower and make sure you’re not rushing.
- Plan your route. Check traffic reports and try to keep to main routes as local roads may not have been reached by the gritting trucks.
- Take provisions; water, food, gloves, scarfs, a warm coat, blankets, hi-viz vest, non-slip shoes like walking boots. Remember to pack a spade, torch, ice scraper and de-icer, warning triangle, map, and some sand or grit (cat litter will do).
- Make sure your phone is fully charged and take a charger with you.
- Remember any vital medicines and a first aid kit.
- Have a full tank of fuel. Therefore, you have a source of heat should you get stuck. However, if this is the case then make sure you clear any snow of blockages from around the exhaust pipes as this can cause carbon monoxide to build up.
- Use your headlights.
- Leave extra space to the car in front and junctions ahead.
- Steer, accelerate and brake lightly. Avoid snatching and jerky movements as this can unsettle the car and cause a skid.
- Avoid wheelspin when pulling away. This could dig you a hole to get stuck in.
- Pull away in as low a gear as possible. This helps to reduce wheel spin, giving you more traction to move off. Try pulling away in second gear rather than first. An automatic car may have a snow setting.
- Use any snow/traction functions your car may offer.
- Steer into a skid. Imagine you’re pointing the front of the car to where you want it to go. Take your foot off the accelerator (to reduce speed) and try not to use the brakes (to avoid further skidding) while you regain control of the car.
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- Do not use cruise control, stay in full control yourself.
- Plan way ahead. It’ll take longer to stop and steer on snow and ice, up to a much as 10 times. Make sure you leave yourself enough time.
- Try and keep the car moving. Starting from stationary can be the hardest part.
- Be careful on hills. Gravity likes to ignore your snowy peril and might try and slide you down the hill whether you want to or not.
If you get stuck
- Don’t put yourself in harm’s way. Other cars on the road can still lose control and even your own car might slide if it’s stopped on ice. It’s also cold outside. Stay safe.
- Don’t over exert yourself trying to move the car or dig it out of the snow.
- Tie something bright, perhaps a piece of clothing to your car’s aerial or roof bars to help to be spotted.
- Run the engine long enough to heat the car but combine with conserving fuel.
- Use the salt/grip around your tyres to try and free from the snow.
- By using your car mats under the driving wheels, this can help gain traction when stuck.