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Winter Driving
Winter Preparation

Driver's Should Be Prepared


Make sure you know exactly where you’re going, what roads you’re taking, and check conditions before you leave. Listen to travel and weather news so you know what to expect.
“If really bad conditions are forecast, think about whether you need to travel at all, even if you are only going on a short, familiar journey. And make sure your vehicle is in good running order before you leave.

We suggest you carry out the following checks regularly:
  • Get your vehicle serviced. That way you know it won’t let you down even if the weather does
  • Keep the cold out of your vehicle by checking and replacing the anti-freeze in the radiator
  • Most batteries last between two and four years. Make sure yours is fully charged and replace it if you’re not sure it’s reliable
  • Lights can get filthy with all the spray in winter. Keep them clean and check the bulbs regularly so you’ll be prepared for lower visibility and shorter days
  • Getting a better grip on the road takes more tire tread in wet or icy conditions. Ensure your tires are inflated to the manufacturers’ recommended pressure and have at least 3mm of tread depth
  • Make sure your wiper blades aren’t worn so you can keep your windscreen as clean as possible for the extra spray, ice and rain you get in winter
  • Dirty windows and mirrors can make it hard to see as the low winter sun hits. Make sure you keep them clean and free of ice and snow in colder weather. And it goes without saying that your windows are clear and de-misted before you set off!
  • Finally, don’t forget to take a map with your for any unplanned diversions
  • It’s also worth keeping a pair of sunglasses in the glove box to protect from the glare from the low winter sun.
Change the way you drive:
We see a lot of collisions that are caused by people not braking in time when the roads are wet or slippery. If it’s foggy, raining, snowing or icy, make sure you slow down and keep well back from the vehicle in front of you.
Stopping distances in winter
  • When roads are slippery it will take longer to stop. Up to 10 times longer.
  • So, drop your speed, and give yourself more time to slow down and stop.
  • Drive with care even if roads have been treated. 
If your vehicle starts to skid:
  • Depress the clutch. Do not brake!
  • Turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid.
  • When the vehicle straightens, steer along the road. 
Driving in fog
  • Use dipped headlights so other drivers can see you.
  • If it’s really foggy (less than 100m visibility) and you can’t see much, then switch your fog lights on. Switch them off once conditions have improved so they don’t dazzle drivers behind you. 
  • Fog is often patchy so try not to speed up as visibility improves. You could suddenly find yourself back in thick fog further up the road.
Driving through ice and snow
  • Check for snow on the roof of the vehicle before you drive off. It can slip down over the windscreen and obscure your view.
  • If your tyres are making virtually no noise this could be a sign you’re driving on ice.
  • If your vehicle skids depress the clutch and turn the steering wheel into the direction of the skid. When the vehicle straightens steer along the road. Don’t brake – it will just lock up your wheels and you’ll skid further.
Driving in the rain
  • When the road’s wet, it can take up to twice as long to stop so it makes sense to slow down when it’s raining.
  • If your vehicle loses its grip, or “aquaplanes”, on surface water take your foot off the accelerator to slow down. Don’t brake or steer suddenly because you have no control of the steering or brakes.
Driving in windy weather
  • In very windy weather we advise you to take extra care on the roads and plan your journeys by checking the latest weather conditions.
  • High-sided vehicles are particularly affected by windy weather but strong gusts can blow a vehicle, cyclist, motorcyclist, or horse rider off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges and high-sided vehicles.
  • If you can avoid it, it’s best not to drive through lying surface water as you might flood your engine. The deepest water is usually nearest the kerb.
  • If you do have to drive through flooded roads, use first gear. Move forward immediately to avoid stalling the engine. Keep your revs high and depress your clutch when you need to.
  • Test your brakes after passing through the water. If they work then you can drive on at your usual speed providing it’s safe to do so.
In freezing conditions, look out for vehicles spreading salt, and snow ploughs
Make sure you watch out for our salt spreaders in winter. They’ll indicate they are spreading salt by flashing amber beacons and will drive at less than 40mph. Don’t overtake these vehicles unless it is safe.
It’s generally best to stay well back because salt is thrown across the width of the road.
The same goes for snow ploughs. Flashing amber beacons mean they are likely to be clearing snow. Don’t overtake them unless the lane you intend to use has been cleared. If you’re following any of these vehicles it’s better to keep well back because snow or salt is thrown across the width of the road.
Breaking down on the road
  • Pull onto the hard shoulder, park as far over to the left as you can, away from traffic, and turn on your hazard warning lights.
  • Get yourself and any passengers out of the vehicle immediately, using the doors on the left hand side furthest from the traffic. While you wait for help, keep well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder and do not try even the simplest of repairs.
  • Try to use the emergency roadside telephones rather than a mobile phone. This will help traffic officers and emergency services know exactly where you are.
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