How To Drive Safely In Snow & Ice – Ultimate Guide For UK

Date Posted: January 24, 2023

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The majority of us are used to driving in heavy rain but driving in winter conditions can be challenging even for the most experienced drivers in the UK. As we are not used to snow, our roads and cars might be not ready for heavy snow or storms. So what should you do if you need to drive somewhere and the road is slippery or covered with snow – here is an ultimate guide:

Take some time for preparation

Check the latest traffic news and make sure that your road is not closed.

You can do it online by visiting one of these websites: AA Traffic NewsRAC Traffic News,  Traffic EnglandWaze – they all have online live maps where you can check what is happening on your route.

Make sure your car is suitable for driving

When it comes to driving in winter, one of the most important things to check is tyres. You should make sure that the grip of your tyres is sufficient – otherwise, you are not only risking being involved in an accident but also getting a fine of  £2,500 and three penalty points (per tyre). Having all 4 tyres with tread below the legal limit could cost you a £10,000 fine and a lost licence.

However, in snowy conditions it is strongly recommended to replace your tyres if the minimum tread depth is below 3mm. The easiest way to check the tread of your tyre is to do a 20p test (see the video below).


Buy a winter kit and keep it in your car

There are specific items that you should keep in your car every winter – it is not compulsory and you will not get a fine for not having them, but it will make your winter days easier.

These are the top 5 things to keep in your car during winter:

  1. A snow and ice scraper. It costs just a few pounds and will be your best friend during snowy days. Instead of heating your car for 10 minutes (or even longer) just scrape the snow and ice, and move on. 
  2. De-Icer. Sometimes it might be not simple to scrape the ice off the windscreen so using some deicer can help to get rid of it.
  3. Jumper cables. Cold winter days have their own joys and surprises – one of them is a flat battery. Even though your breakdown cover might cover the issue of a flat battery, do not risk putting yourself into a situation when you would need to wait for breakdown assistance to arrive for several hours- especially in bad weather conditions when they are busy.
  4. Car tow rope. It can be handy in various situations: in case you have slipped off the road or have broken down, with the help of a special rope and another vehicle, you might be lucky enough to get back on the road or be able to drive to a local garage without waiting for breakdown cover to come.
  5. Micro Fibre Drying Towel. Don’t use your hand or jacket to clean the wet mirrors or the misty windscreen from the inside – buy a drying towel and keep it in your car – it’s cheap, effective and really helps.

Make sure there is no snow on your car

No matter how much of a hurry you are in, make sure you are able to see the road from your car – both from the windscreen/backscreen and mirrors. There is no law that directly says that driving with snow on your car is illegal, however, the Highway Code stays that you must be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle. If you fail to clear the car’s screens and mirrors from snow or ice, you might get a fine and more importantly, put yoursself and others at risk.

How to Drive in Snow and Ice

Depending on the road, your route, weather, and various situations, there can be different ways to keep full control of your car.

General rules when riding in winter (as recommended by RAC):
  • Move off in second gear
  • Accelerate gently, using low revs and change up to a higher gear when safe
  • Maintain a safe stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front of you: 20 seconds or the length of 10 cars
  • Leave plenty of room for vehicles that are uphill in front of you
  • Use a low gear when driving downhill and avoid braking unless necessary
  • When coming closer to the bend, try to brake before the bend
  • Break, accelerate, and change gears slowly and smoothly
  • Use dipped headlights when driving in heavy snow
  • When visibility is below 100m, put your fog lights on
  • Be very cautious of other road users – they might be a potential hazard to you
What to do when you have been involved in an accident?

The first tip is do not panic. Turn on your hazard warning lights and take the details from the other driver and all the witnesses. Check if you and everyone else is safe and not injured. If injured, call the ambulance and get help. If you hit (or were hit by another) vehicle, do not leave the accident’s place. It is a good idea to have the police at the place of the accident – they will make the place of the accident safer by diverting traffic. While the police come, make sure that it is safe to get out of your vehicle and if it is, go out, and speak with the other driver and take as much evidence as possible including:

  • vehicle’s registration number
  • make and model
  • driver’s name and contact details

If you have a phone or camera with you – take some pictures. Look around if there are any witnesses and if possible take their contact details.

Depending on the vehicle’s condition you can either go home on your own or you might need to call your breakdown cover (if you have one). Also, give a call to your insurance company – they need to know that accident has happened.

You should visit your GP even if you are feeling fine. After some time you might start feeling pain which is a symptom of injury which you can claim compensation for. If the accident was not your fault, call us or contact us online – we have a free claims helpline and qualified advisers who can give you further instructions on what to do next. If you are eligible to make a claim then our solicitors can secure you compensation for personal injury, vehicle damages, loss of earnings and other damages.

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