Winter Driving Tips

Even experienced drivers may struggle with the snowy and icy conditions that a British winter presents. New drivers may find winter driving conditions even more of a challenge. Here we provide 5 tips to keep you safe on the road once the bad weather arrives.

Take the basic precautions
The simple, basic precautions can be the most important during the winter period. Make sure that your car is properly maintained at all times and thoroughly plan your journey before you set off. It is much more likely that there will be diversions and hold-ups during periods of bad weather so allow longer for your journeys. Make sure that there`s plenty of fuel in the car and that the oil, water and screenwash levels are all topped up. Make sure you have breakdown cover.

Stopping distances
You need to double stopping distances in icy conditions as a minimum precaution. Ideally you should be far enough away from the car in front so that you could bring your car to a standstill without the use of brakes and still not hit the rear of the car in front.

Change your driving technique
Drive in the highest gear feasible as this results in the best level of control. When you move off on a slippery road, use second gear if you can as you will get more grip.

Once you`ve set off it is critical to accelerate, brake and steer as smoothly as possible. Try to anticipate the dangers ahead and react early to them. You will need to drive more slowly than you normally would but not so slowly that you don`t have any momentum behind you when you need it.

Always pull slowly away and don`t over rev the car. Should you find yourself in a skid come off all of the pedals straight away and try to use just the steering wheel to control the car. If you can`t steer out of trouble then use the brakes only as a last resort. In icy conditions you cannot rely upon ABS to give its usual level of control.

Prepare in advance
Well-inflated tyres with a decent amount of tread are even more crucial in wintery conditions. There should be a minimum of 3mm of tread on a tyre. It is also a good idea to keep some WD40 in the car in case the locks freeze. Also take some food and water, some warm clothes and a shovel. Keep you phone charged as you may need it in an emergency.

Fit winter tyres
Winter tyres provide better grip and control in both dry and wet conditions as well on ice and snow. Winter tyres reduce a vehicle`s stopping distance considerably and keep their traction much better in icy and snowy conditions. Poor-weather tyres are becoming much more popular in the UK and tyre hotels have even started to pop up where you can store your summer tyres if you don`t have room at home. When the temperature dips under 7 degrees it is best to opt for specialised winter tyres whereas all-season tyres may be used all year round. If you do decide to get some winter tyres, make sure that you have a full set fitted as mixed tyres can make a car less stable, particularly when travelling downhill.

For more information on winter tyres and for other driving tips, online forums such as those found at can be invaluable.

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