Driving in snow and ice can be extremely tricky and it is always advisable that you only travel if it is absolutely necessary. If you find yourself in a situation where you have to drive your car through settled snow or ice, consider these tips below to help you stay safe and in control.
Before you set off
- As with driving in any extreme weather, assess whether it is absolutely essential for you to travel. If you can find another means of transport, this is often a better option. If you must drive, tell a member of your family or a friend, giving them your route and expected time of arrival.
- Plan your journey in advance. Avoid country lanes and minor roads, as these are less likely to have been cleared or gritted. Where possible stick to main roads.¹
- Make sure you have plenty of battery in your mobile phone (but don’t use it while driving), just in case you find yourself in an isolated area and need help.
- Make sure you have everything you need for your journey in the car with you.
Preparing your car
- Don’t forget about your car battery, especially during winter when it’s more likely to fail. Check out the AA’s advice on avoiding battery problems.
- Ensure that you have plenty of petrol, in case your journey turns out to be longer than expected.
- Warm the car up to help defrost the windscreen.
- 47% of motorists admit to leaving their car unattended on winter mornings.²
- In the winter of 2012, West Midlands Police alone recorded nearly 100 car thefts from motorists who had left their car unattended while it warmed up.³
Clearing your car for full visibility
- Clear all windows of settled snow, so that you have full view of the road.
- Make sure your lights and number plate are clear. ⁴
- Remove any snow from the roof, as it could fall onto the windscreen while you’re driving.⁵
If you fail to properly clear the snow from your car, and it’s causing a danger to other road users, you could be issued with a £60 fine and get 3 points on your licence.⁶
Check out this handy advice from Which? on how to drive in snow and ice:
While driving in snow and ice
- Try to stay calm. This sounds obvious, but if you are panicking you will not be thinking clearly.
- As you drive away, do so as slowly and carefully as possible, avoiding revving the car too much.⁷
- Once you join the roads, maintain a safe distance between your car and the car in front. That way, should you need to brake, you will have given yourself plenty of time to do so gently.⁸
- Ensure that all movements are as smooth as possible:
- Brake gently to avoid skidding
- Change gear as smoothly as possible, once again avoiding high revving or jerky movements. Staying in a higher gear can help give you more control over the car.⁹
- When you’re approaching a bend, slow down before you start turning the steering wheel.¹⁰
- Maintain a sensible speed throughout your journey and do not feel pressured by other drivers to drive faster than you feel is appropriate.
- Watch out for black ice. This is where water collects on the roads after bad weather, temperatures fall and the water freezes over to form a large sheet of ‘invisible’ ice.
- Know your own ability. Should you at any time feel overwhelmed, or worried that the conditions are worsening, pull your car over safely and try to arrange another means of getting home.
Sources:  http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-16946762
  https://www.abi.org.uk/News/News-releases/2011/12/Ice-thieves-leaving-motorists-out-in-the-cold-this-winter
   http://www.iam.org.uk/media-and-research/media-centre/driving-and-riding-tips/20169-ready-steady-snow