8 Winter Driving Tips


Planning on getting out and about in your car this winter? Make sure you keep safe by getting clued up on how to drive in adverse weather with our best winter driving tips.


1. Allow plenty of time for your journey


The winter months often bring with it treacherous weather conditions, including snow and ice.

This means that you’ll need to give yourself plenty of time before you set off for your journey to de-ice and de-mist your car.

You’ll also need to take it slower on the roads when you do set off, especially if they’re slippy due to winter showers. On top of this, there’s a chance that roads will be temporarily closed if the weather has caused disruption.

We recommend giving yourself at least an extra 30 minutes in order to prepare your car and then get to your destination safely and on time.


2. Check that all your lights work

Driving in Freezing Fog - United Kingdom

You’ll often find that there’s poor visibility in winter if rain, sleet, ice and snow are around.

For this reason, it’s important that you make sure your car is visible and that you can see what’s going on around you. So, before you start driving, prepare your vehicle for the journey:

  • Make sure your front and rear lights work (including the brake light), plus your fog lights
  • Clear any snow and/or ice that may be covering your lights
  • Check to see that the lenses of your lights are clean – grit and dirt can make your lights less effective by preventing the light from passing through easily

3. Clear snow from your roof, not just your windows

Car roof under snow

Before you get in your car and head on your way, it’s good practice to remove any snow from your car’s roof before setting off.

If you don’t, you run the risk of snow falling from your roof onto the windscreen while you’re driving. This can be very dangerous, especially if your view of the road ahead is suddenly blocked when you brake or change direction, for example.


4. Avoid harsh braking; make use of your gears


When you brake in snowy/icy conditions, make sure you plan ahead and do it gently. This will reduce the risk of your wheels locking up and the car spinning.

Instead, try selecting lower gears and use your engine to slow your car down with more control. This is especially effective when you’re travelling downhill.


5. Leave 10 times the distance between you and the car in front


Stopping distances are drastically reduced when you’re driving in wintery conditions.

Even if you’re driving along at 30mph, stopping distance is around 23 metres (75 feet). This more than triples to 95 metres if you’re driving at 70mph, the UK national speed limit.

These increased stopping distances mean that, in order to avoid a collision, it’s important to keep a bigger gap between you and the car in front. On a normal dry day, the general rule of thumb is a gap of two seconds. However, the drastic shortening of stopping distance while driving in winter means keeping a gap that’s ten times more (in this case, 20 seconds).


6. Keep essential items in your car

Woman opening compulsory car first aid kit with kind fisrt aid equipment, health care concept

There are some essential items you can carry in your car to combat harsh winter conditions while you’re out and about.


Here are the key items you should keep close by in your car:

  • Ice scraper
  • First aid kit
  • Mobile phone power bank
  • Jump leads
  • Warning triangles
  • Warm clothes, high-vis jackets and waterproofs
  • Boots or other sturdy footwear
  • Emergency snow shovel

7. Top up your antifreeze

Replacing and refilling process fluids in the car - raised the engine hood for maintenance

Antifreeze doesn’t cost much at all, but an engine that’s cracked and frozen will.

To ensure this doesn’t happen, you should keep on top of the levels you have in the reservoir. This is particularly true if the weather is really cold.

In the winter you’ll need a 50/50 mix of antifreeze and water, which should protect your car well into the minuses.


8. Take it easy


This is by far one of the most important bits of advice we can give you when it comes to driving in winter.

Most incidents between cars happens as a result of drivers doing the exact opposite and rushing around without due care and attention. But you can avoid falling into this trap by taking it easy behind the wheel.

Here are our top tips for avoiding a crash while driving in the ice and/or snow:

  1. Keep your speed within the limit and safe based on the road conditions
  2. Make gentle manoeuvres to avoid skidding
  3. Where possible, pull away in second gear, gently lifting the clutch to avoid wheelspin

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