Safe Winter driving

Snow car







Winter is here! This is the second morning that I have woken up having to scrape the frost from my car. Both times the temperature was -5°C! So winter is definitely on its way. So I thought it would be helpful to think of key things to check at this time of year.

  • Check that you are using a good quality screen wash that won’t freeze.
  • Make sure that you have antifreeze in your coolant system.
  • Think about how much tread your tyres have.
  • How old is your battery? Is it reliable?

The advice always seems to be that if you don’t need to travel, then don’t. However, if you need to, here are a few things to consider having in the car in case things get bad:

  • Ice scraper and de-icer
  • Water if washer jets freeze to clean windscreen
  • Torch and spare batteries
  • Blankets and winter boots in case you get stuck
  • First aid kit
  • Jump start cables
  • Food and warm drink in a thermos
  • Shovel for the snow
  • Reflective warning sign
  • Mobile phone with charger

Different types of weather and considerations:

Heavy Rain

  • Lower your driving speed, and increase your safe distance.
  • Headlights should be dipped at all times.
  • Don’t use your rear fog lights, they will dazzle other drivers.
  • Watch out for large & fast-moving vehicles which create spray and reduce visibility.
  • And don’t soak pedestrians or cyclists with your spray either!
  • If you break down, keep the bonnet closed to avoid your car’s electrical system getting wet.
  • Aquaplaning is when your tyres lose contact with the road, and your steering suddenly feels light. If this happens, ease off acceleration, don’t brake and allow your car to slow until you have control again.
  • Don’t drive fast through deep water, this can cause a lot of damage.
  • Don’t venture into water if you can’t see how deep it is.

Foggy conditions

  • Lower your speed, and increase your safe distance.
  • Use your headlights and fog lights, but turn off your fog lights off as soon as conditions improve so as not to blind other drivers.
  • Headlights should be dipped at all times.
  • If you really cannot see, consider stopping until it is safe to continue.

High Winds

  • Choose a more sheltered route if you can.
  • Increase your safe distance.
  • Drive slowly- be especially vigilant in exposed areas.
  • Grip the steering wheel firmly- don’t let strong gusts catch you off guard.
  • Give other road users more room than usual, giving cyclists and motorcyclists a particularly wide berth. (Motorcyclists should really avoid travelling in high winds).
  • Keep an eye on other vehicles and wind patterns.
  • Be mindful of extra debris on the road.

Snowy conditions

  • Clear your car roof, windows, lights and number plates of snow before setting off.
  • Operate your controls in a smooth and slow fashion when driving in snowy conditions.
  • Accelerate gently, use low revs and use the highest gear possible to keep control of your car.
  • Higher gears can help your tyres grip on to snow, so consider moving off in second gear.
  • Leave bigger gaps between you and other drivers.
  • If you skid, steer gently into it and don’t let go of the steering wheel. Don’t hit the brakes and panic.
  • Compressed snow is icier than fresh powdery snow, so wheel tracks can be treacherous.
  • Sunglasses may be needed for sunny snow glare.
  • Don’t try to keep driving if your wheels spin in snow, as this will only dig you in deeper. Move your tyres from side to side to clear a track and use a shovel to dig yourself out.

Icy conditions

  • Allow up to 10 minutes to clear your windscreen of ice using a scraper and de-icer, and don’t neglect the other windows in your car either. Don’t use water to de-ice the windscreen, as this will just freeze it over again.
  • You can use a lighter to warm up your key if your car locks freeze over.
  • Don’t drive off until you have good visibility.
  • Higher gears can help your tyres grip on to ice, so consider moving off in second gear.
  • Lower your speed, and increase your safe distance.
  • If you skid, steer gently into it and don’t let go of the steering wheel. Don’t hit the brakes and panic.
  • Turn back if icy conditions become too treacherous.


  • Stay inside your car vehicle- hail falls fast, and can cause injury.
  • Windshields are the toughest windows in the car, so keep your car angled so that hail hits you there.
  • If hail is severe, pull over to a safe place to avoid damaging your car windows.

Hope this is helpful. Keep safe. Mike