GEARING UP FOR WINTER - Winter Driving Advice
Don't wait for the wintry weather to arrive. Our weather
can be unpredictable - severe weather conditions can arise when
least expected and be extremely dangerous if you're out on the
Be prepared, and make sure your vehicle is ready for winter by
following our checklist below. Always carry an emergency kit.
Suggested items are also listed below.
If your journey is not ESSENTIAL the best way
to stay safe in bad weather is to STAY OFF the
BEFORE YOU SET OFF
Is your vehicle winter ready?
Regularly servicing, and checking your vehicle is in good
running order before setting out will reduce your chances of
breaking down on the road. It's worth making these checks regularly
- and particularly before a long winter journey:
- Is the battery fully charged? Replace it if it's not completely
- Are your lights clean and all working. Carry spare bulbs.
- Change your windscreen wiper blades if they are worn
- Check your fluid levels, screen wash, engine oil, anti-freeze
Use a higher concentration of screen wash to prevent freezing
- Check all windows are clean
- Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated and replace them
before the tread has reached the legal minimum. Check your tyre
pressures (refer to the owners handbook) & tread depth (min
- Consider booking your car into a reputable garage for a winter
service for extra peace of mind.
Check your emergency kit is complete
Just gather together the items below and pack in the car at the
start of the winter season. You never know when you might need
Your emergency kit should include:
- Ice scraper, de-icer and dry cloths
- Torch and spare batteries - or a wind-up torch
- Warm clothes and blankets - for you and any passengers
- Waterproof boots
- First aid kit
- Jump leads
- A shovel
- Piece of old carpet. Grit based cat litter is also useful and
convenient to carry
- Road atlas
- Sunglasses (for low winter sun and the glare off snow which can
- High visiblity vest
- Warning triangle
We would advise you not to travel if you can possibly
However if the journey is unavoidable, there are a few things you
should do before each journey in severe weather.
Driving through ice and snow
- Check your emergency kit.
- Check tyres.
- Check lights and wipers.
- Clean windscreen, windows and mirrors.
- Clear any snow off the roof of the vehicle before you drive
- Clear any snow and ice from all windows, lights and number
plates. Make sure you can see clearly and be seen.
- Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged - but don't use
- Take some food and a warm drink in a flask in case you get
- Don't forget to take any personal medication too!
If you find
yourself out and about in severe weather conditions:
- Make sure the windscreen, back and side windows are thoroughly
de-iced on the outside and clear on the inside before setting off.
Don’t simply clear a ‘porthole’ to look through.
- Lower your speed in poor visibility and poor driving
conditions. It’s better to drive slowly and smoothly to avoid
- Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin, without
increasing your speed.
- Select 2nd gear when pulling away, easing your foot off the
clutch gently to avoid wheel spin.
- Brake gently to avoid locking the wheels. Get into a low gear
earlier than normal and allow the speed of the vehicle to fall
- Maintain at least a 10 second gap between you and the vehicle
in front. It takes 10 times further to stop in icy conditions than
on a dry road.
- Use headlights whenever visibility is reduced – for example,
early morning, at dusk, when it's raining or in any gloomy
- Don't dazzle others with your main beam.
- When driving downhill, choose second or third gear to prevent
- Take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily, rather
than with jerky movements, to avoid skidding.
- Never brake if the vehicle skids. Instead, ease off the
accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until
you gain control.
- If you do get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow
from the wheels to give the tyres some grip. Once on the move
again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.
- If your vehicle breaks down, pull off the road as far as
possible and switch on the hazard warning lights.
- Look out for winter service vehicles spreading salt or using
- Maintain a safe distance behind salting vehicles. They have
flashing amber beacons and travel at slower speeds – around
- Do not overtake unless it is indicated as safe to do so – there
may be uncleared snow on the road ahead.