How to drive in snow & icy conditions
Let's face it - here in the UK we're not very good at dealing with snow. We're just not used to the fluffy, white stuff and it causes numerous transport disruptions both on the roads and the rails. The advice is usually not to travel unless necessary, but if you really have to go out - here are our top tips for ensuring your journey is a safe and trouble-free as possible.
Before you set off
Plan your journey
Use a map to make sure you know where you're going, and get traffic and travel updates to ensure the route you intend to travel isn't hazardous and doesn't contain road closures.
Give yourself more time
Allow plenty of time for your journey. You'll need extra time to clear snow or ice from your car, and to warm it up. You could be breaking the law by travelling with snow covering your car, specifically your mirrors and windows, so make sure you you give yourself time to clear it all off.
Check your wiper-blades are clear of ice, your screenwash is topped up, and your tyres are not flat and have good tread. You may want to consider winter tyres for the colder months, as these provide a great number of benefits over summer tyres. Read up more on standard tyres vs. winter tyres here.
Pack for the worst
Should the worst happen, and you get stuck in the snow - you should pack essentials to make sure you're prepared. This should include, but not be limited to:
- A torch
- A Hi-Vis vest or jacket
- A blanket
- Food and water
- De-Icer or Scraper
- Phone charger
- First Aid Kit
- Warning triangle
- Jump leads
- Section of carpet (for under your wheels to help with traction)
- Phone number of a breakdown company
Driving in snow
- Wear comfortable, low-heeled, dry footwear.
- Accelerate gently and change to a higher gear as quickly as possible.
- Set off in second gear rather than first - this will help reduce your wheels from slipping
- When moving, leave a much larger gap between you and the car in front because if you need to brake, you must do so very gently.
- When approaching a hill, try to safely maintain your speed to prevent you from having to shift down a gear.
- Use a low gear for travelling downhill, and if you have to brake, do so very gently.
- When approaching a bend, try to brake before turning your steering wheel to avoid skidding. If you do lose grip, don't panic. Take your foot off the accelerator and point your wheels in the direction you want to go.
- If you start to skid, steer into it gently. For example, if you car is skidding to the right, then steer to the right and don't brake hard.
- Make sure you turn your (dipped) headlights on when driving in heavy snow, so other cars can see you. Be aware that snow makes the environment bright, and this can fool auto-headlights. If visibility becomes very poor, then use your fog lamps as well, remembering to turn them off when conditions improve.
- If a road hasn't been gritted, then be aware of driving in the tracks of other cars. Snow can become compacted and icy as a result.