Top tips for driving safely this winter

Tips for staying safe on the road in this horrendous weather (good weather if you’re a kid getting the week off school!) are understandably being shared everywhere this week. Without an end to the snowy blizzard in sight (we’re being dramatic, the snow will be gone by next week), here are our top tips to get you through not only snow but flooding and fog.

As a driver, before you set off:

  • Ensure you are prepared for every eventuality on the roads and your car is equipped with the following: screen wash, de-icer, ice scraper, warm clothes, blanket, shovel, phone charger, first aid kit, food and warm drink in a flask, carpet square (to put under your wheels), breakdown cover details
  • Check tyres for adequate tread and that they’re inflated correctly
  • Check your lights are working on all sides
  • Check your route for any bad weather/traffic incidents
  • Leave 10 minutes earlier to give yourself extra time to get to your destination
  • Clear the snow from on top of your car
  • Use lukewarm water or de-icer to clear the ice from the outside of your car. Hot or boiling water may crack your windscreen.
  • Make sure you use good quality screenwash that protects to at least -35 degrees.

When driving in snow:

  • It is important to accelerate gently – if possible move off in second gear as this will reduce wheel spin
  • Leave additional space between you and the car in front – you may need to leave as much as 10 times as much space as normal
  • Keep your speed low and allow extra time to stop and steer
  • If you do skid, steer gently into it. If the rear of the car is sliding right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes as this will make your situation worse
  • If the road has not been gritted, do not drive in other vehicles’ wheel tracks as they are likely to be icier than fresh snow.
  • Change gears and brake as gently as possible
  • Sunglasses will help reduce the glare of the sun on the snow

During the winter months, you may also need to consider several other types of weather conditions in addition to snow.

  • If you approach a flooded road do not attempt to cross if you are not sure of the depth of the water. You don’t want to risk getting stuck
  • Deeper water is usually located by the curb
  • Be conscious of waves created by approaching other vehicles
  • Avoid stalling by keeping the car in first gear and the engine speed high
  • Test your breaks after you have driven through deep water
  • Switch on your lights
  • Turn off your radio so that you can listen to the sound of any oncoming traffic
  • If you break down, call the police and try and get your vehicle off the road if it is safe to do so.
  • Leave your warning lights on so that others can see your car until it is moved.

Please note that these tips are not meant to be a comprehensive guide to driving in adverse conditions but to help you to stay safe during Storm Emma.