How to stay safe driving in snow and ice

Experts say to increase stopping distances by 10 times in wintry conditions

While the wintry weather makes everywhere look like a Christmas card (at least until it turns to slush), the treacherous conditions make it difficult to drive in. Fortunately, road safety experts have some great advice…

Hope for the best, prepare for the worst

IAM RoadSmart says the best advice is to avoid driving altogether in the severe snow and ice, especially if there are weather warnings in place, but if you must go out, planning is key.

Think about the whole journey, and whether there will be any hazardous hotspots along the way. Drivers are also urged to use motorways and well-travelled A-roads that are more likely to have been gritted, as opposed to country lanes and quiet roads.

Richard Gladman of IAM RoadSmart says: “Many of the problems associated with travel during snow could be avoided if people planned in advance.

“People routinely travel with only the minimum of safety equipment, without realising their journey could be a lot longer than expected.”

The expert says every car essentials kit should have all the obvious equipment, such as a shovel, torch, blanket, jump-leads and tow rope.

But if you’re planning on heading out, also take a bottle of water and a snack, in case you end up stuck somewhere.

Mr Gladman advises road users to make sure mobile phones are fully charged and you have all the details for your breakdown company in case you need them. He also advises drivers to be aware of where petrol and service stations are along the route.

He added: “This all might sound obvious, but too many of us forget to do any of this. Don’t be one of the ill-prepared, and check the weather forecast  to help you prepare for it.”

Driving in snow and ice quick tips

As well as using common sense to drive more slowly, increasing stopping distances and making sure you’re concentrating fully throughout the journey, the charity also advises motorists to:

  • Clear all windows and mirrors fully before setting off
  • Clear your roof of any snow, so it doesn’t fall onto the windscreen while driving and obstruct your vision
  • Start off in second gear if you’re driving a manual vehicle, and try and stay one gear higher to avoid wheel spin.
  • Increase stopping distances by 10 times the normal amount to account for skidding if you’re forced to brake suddenly

Want to find out more about driving in the winter months? We’ve got you covered.

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