Surviving the Snow: 10 Essential Tips for Winter Driving
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Surviving the Snow: 10 Essential Tips for Winter Driving

The RAC said there has been a “huge spike” in breakdowns this week due to icy conditions.

A spokesperson said: “Even though the weather is largely dry in most places, today is proving far busier than yesterday, which is unusual as Monday is generally the biggest day for breakdowns.

“Flat batteries are the top reason for drivers calling us out as cars with older ones finally give up the ghost in the cold.

“Ice, and in some areas snow, are the biggest risks for drivers this week – particularly on stretches of road that haven’t been treated.

“It’s vital everyone slows down and gives themselves time to plenty of time to brake and react in the event something unexpected happens.”

These are the top tips from Simon Waye, technical engineer at ATS Euromaster.

Before you set off in snow and icy conditions

Consider if it’s completely necessary

Driving in ice and snow can be very dangerous. Consider if you do need to take this journey, 21% of drivers said they will avoid driving in the snow and find a different way to travel. We recommend looking for an alternative way to travel, as a safer option.

Check your tyres

Tyres with very low tread wear can seriously affect your grip, which is especially dangerous in ice. You can check your thread by using a penny upside down in between the tyre tread if you can see the top of the Queen’s head, the treads are worn and need replacing. The legal limit is at least 1.6mm across the central three-quarters of the tyre.

Clear windows and lights

It’s a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road ahead before you set off. Not having cleared away snow and ice properly could result in a £60 fine and three points on your license.

De-ice your windscreen inside and out, clear any snow from your lights and wingmirrors, number plates, and check your front and back wiper blades are working properly.

Fill up your tank

Getting stuck in traffic in bad weather increases your fuel consumption so make sure you have enough fuel in your car. Also make sure you have warm clothing in case you do have to stop.

Check for any weather advice

Check out your local news bulletins or online for any road closures, flooding and roads that will not be gritted. It helps to plan your journey accordingly.

Whilst driving in snow and icy conditions

Use dipped headlights

If visibility is seriously reduced due to poor weather, you should use your dipped headlights or fog lights to help you and others. The research revealed almost two thirds (62%) of British drivers are not aware that this will help improve visibility, even though it could land you a fine.

Reduce your speed dramatically

When the roads are icy, they will inevitably be more slippery than usual, and braking distances can be 10 times more than on a dry road. Highways England therefore advises to slow down and keep 10 times the normal recommended gap between you and the car in front. It also advises to drive particularly slowly around any bends.

Be careful when braking and accelerating

Braking and accelerating as smoothly as possible is important, particularly on ice, in order to reduce the chances of skidding. Avoid any harsh acceleration and to slow down, use gear changes and light touches of the brake to show your brake lights to cars behind you.

Gear changes

Setting off in second gear can help to reduce wheel slip. The Highway Code says to ‘drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible’. When driving downhill however, stay in a low gear and avoid braking unless you need to.

Keep your aircon on

Driving in bad weather can mean your windows are likely to quickly steam up. Make sure you have your air conditioning on to make sure your visibility isn’t reduced, and you avoid a fine.