Driving in snow safely
3 min read
Driving in the snow can be a real challenge for drivers, making driving in these severe conditions both terrifying and dangerous.
Unless your journey is absolutely essential, it is advised to avoid driving altogether in such harsh conditions but if you must drive, here’s how to make sure you are as prepared as possible.
De-icing your car
- Before you even leave, it’s best to clear all the snow and ice from your windscreen, windows and even your roof as it can obstruct your vision if it falls off.
- Always use lukewarm water as boiling water can actually crack your glass.
- If you’re in a bit of a rush and can’t wait around for the kettle to boil, buying proper de-icer spray is a good go-to.
Always double check your tyre thread. Anything below 1.6mm is illegal and can seriously affect your chances of losing control in the snow.
It’s good to be prepared when driving in snowy conditions, which is why packing an emergency kit is essential. You might need such things as:
- Some water
- A phone charger
- A Hi-Vis
- A warning triangle
- Breakdown numbers
Most main roads will be salted the night before therefore try and steer clear of rural, country back roads as they will most likely not be salted and much more dangerous.
Driving in snow
- To avoid skidding you must adapt your driving and slow down - the faster you drive the higher the chance of sliding.
- The RAC advise to change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible.
- Keep well back from the driver in front, as stopping distances can be 10 times greater than on dry roads.
- Braking while your car is skidding can actually make things worse. The Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) suggest gently letting your foot off the accelerator and allowing the speed to drop by itself.
- Use a low gear for going downhill and again, try not to brake to avoid chance of skidding.
- Use dipped headlights if visibility worsens.
- If the roads have been gritted, stay cautious of driving on the tyre tracks as the compressed snow can be much icier compared to fresh snow.
If you get stuck in snow
- The RoSPA warns that revving the engine will only dig you deeper and can ultimately make things worse. Instead, they advise moving your vehicle back and forth slowly out of the rut, using the highest gear you can.
- Don’t forget to straighten your steering and clear as much snow as possible from the wheels.
- If this doesn't work - phone for help or ask a friendly passer-by for a push out of the snow.
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