How to Drive in Snow and Ice

Be Prepared – Your safety is the most important thing

Severe Weather can mean bad visibility and poor driving conditions, so be prepared and try and plan around the forecast weather warnings.

The first question should be, do I need to make this journey.  If you can avoid driving when conditions outside are unpredictable and potentially dangerous, you should.

Always plan your journey and prepare the route beforehand, sticking to the main road where possible, as these are more likely to be gritted and cleared.

Listen to the traffic updates, you might have a better chance of avoiding serious delays.

Packed car

Now, we are not saying pack your car like the one above, however......make sure you have plenty of fuel for the journey, bearing in mind you could get delayed and need to keep warm.  You might also want to pack some water to drink, something to eat, a blanket, mobile phone charger and first aid kit.

Check that your windscreen wipers are in good working order to keep the windscreen clear and your visibility unaffected.

Make sure your lights are all working and clearly visible.

Remember that a car’s stopping distance will be longer in the bad weather, and if snow is falling heavily, it will reduce your visibility so give yourself longer to react.

Winter driving

Tips for driving in snow

To avoid wheel spin, be gentle on the throttle, avoiding harsh acceleration.  Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch.

To slow down, use engine braking through the gears – just touch the brake pedal lightly to show brake lights to others behind

Use a low gear to try and avoid braking and leave as much room as you can to the car in front.

If you are approaching a hill, drop well back or wait until its clear of traffic, to avoid stopping part way up and keep a constant speed and try to avoid changing gear on the hill.

Daytime running lights will not be enough in heavy snow, so make sure you use your dipped How to headlights.

If the conditions improve, be aware that country roads and bridges might still be hazardous, as they may not have been gritted.

Black Ice

Black ice is a thin layer of ice on the road surface that’s usually transparent, it is caused by rain falling on frozen surfaces.   It's very difficult for drivers to see, so it can be one of the biggest dangers of winter driving.  It’s very important you know how to react if you hit a patch of black ice on the road.  It usually forms on parts of the road that don’t get much sun – tree-lined routes and tunnels – as well as on bridges, overpasses and the road beneath overpasses.

If its slippery, do everything slowly as things can go wrong very quickly.

Avoid harsh braking and acceleration, use the brakes gently and reduce your speed slowly and smoothly.

If you do hit the black ice, keep calm and avoid sudden manoeuvres.

Don’t hit the brakes, lift off the accelerator and try to keep steering straight, allowing the car to pass over the ice.

Winter tyres

Most cars are fitted with summer tyres as standard.  Winter tyres can provide additional grip in the icy and wet conditions although they are not able to tackle driving in deep snow.  As an alternative you could consider all-season tyres.