How to drive safely in the snow and ice

How to drive safely in the snow and ice
How to drive safely in the snow and ice
Snow laughing matter… (Picture: Getty)

Snow has been spreading across the country this week, making for difficult driving conditions for all those who still have to commute.

Driving across snow or ice presents many hazards that can lead to drivers becoming stuck or getting involved in accidents on the road.

If you’re planning to drive during the snowy weather, here is everything you need to know to stay safe when travelling.

Prepare before you start driving

When it comes to snow and ice, the roads can be a dangerous place to be, but there are plenty of ways to ensure you can drive safely.

Local councils will have been busy gritting some of the main roads, but any journey is still likely to have various hazards because of the icy conditions.

Before you set off, you should make sure you remove ice from your windows and mirrors and top up your screenwash to stop the water in your reservoir from freezing.

Pack a blanket, some food and water, shovel, warm clothes, phone charger, ice scraper, first aid kit, jump leads, torch, map, and a square of carpet that you can put under your tyres to give you leverage out the snow if you get stuck.

A car driving in the February 2019 snow conditions in south-west England
Make sure you’re prepared before you set off (Picture: AFP/Getty Images)

It’s also important to ensure your phone is charged and you have suitable dry footwear to drive in.

Make sure that the tread on your tyres is at the legal limit with a minimum depth of 1.6 millimetres.

In snowy weather you should always give yourself extra time to complete your journey, as you will likely be moving at a slower pace and you could also encounter delays.

It’s also worth checking that your number plates are obscured by snow, as you could be the subject of a fine if they are not visible.

A car driving through the snow in Czech Republic
Drive slowly, and allow more time for your journeys (Photo by Florian Gaertner/Photothek via Getty Images)

How to drive safely in the snow

Make sure there is a larger distance between you and other drivers, as your braking time will be longer than normal because of ice on the road.

This also means that you should drive slower, turn around corners with more cautions and avoid overtaking where possible.

You should also be careful of black ice which can be difficult for drivers to spot, but poses a potential danger.

Snow chains are legal in the UK and you can fit them onto your car as long as it says that you can in your handbook, and they give you a better grip on the roads.

If you’re driving an automatic car in the snow it is advised that you take extra care when controlling the power of your vehicle to avoid any skidding on the ice.

Some automatic cars do also include controls that allow you to change into higher and lower gears to help with snowy conditions.

heavy snow covers a car in london
(Photo: TonyBaggett/Getty Images/iStock Editorial)

How to drive downhill in snow

Use a low gear for going downhill and try to avoid braking unless necessary, make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the car in front

When approaching a bend, brake before you actually start to turn the steering wheel. If your car does lose grip try not to panic; the key thing is to take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that your wheels are pointing in the direction you want to go in.

What if your car gets stuck in the snow?

The most important thing if your car breaks down or you get stuck in the snow is to already be prepared.

You should keep a de-icer and ice scraper in your car at all times.

If your car is trapped in the snow you first need to make sure that your wheels are straight, which helps prevent as much wheel spin from happening, and you should try to shovel the snow out from under your tyres if possible.

You should try driving in a low gear and drive slowly, avoiding any sharp breaking.

If you’re struggling to get any grip then it could be worth using your floor mats in the car to try and get more traction under the tyres.

Are you insured to drive during weather warnings?

The good news is that if you need to drive during the snowy weather you are insured for both yellow and red weather warnings.

As long as you are following the other terms in your policy then your insurance remains valid for any accidents or faults with your vehicle.

MORE : Is it safe to walk your dog in the snow?

MORE : Britain braced for six inches of snow and temperatures as low as -10°C

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Author: Anna Paul