Winter Driving Tips
Weather conditions during the winter months can make road conditions extremely hazardous, even for the most experienced drivers. Here’s our top tips for staying safe and legal during winter.
The best option during adverse weather conditions like snow, fog and ice is to avoid driving completely, unless it is absolutely necessary. Can you postpone or avoid your journey by making a call or using a video conferencing website? Consider using public transport as an alternative to driving and speak to your employer about the possibility of working from home when the weather is bad.
Prepare for your Journey
- If you decide you really need to travel, check the weather forecast and travel news for the areas you intend to drive through during your journey before you set off. Keep checking them regularly in case the conditions change and be prepared to change your plans if needed.
- Allow extra time for your journey in case you are delayed by the bad weather.
- Try and stick to major roads wherever possible as they are more likely to be gritted.
- Make sure someone knows about your journey and your estimated arrival time, in case you get into difficulties.
- Ensure you fill your tank with fuel at the start of your journey to avoid running out. Don’t let your fuel drop below a quarter of a tank in case you are delayed.
- Check that your tyres are in good condition, the pressures are correct, and the tread depth is above the minimum legal requirement of 1.6mm. FleetEurope’s policy is to change worn tyres when they reach 2mm.
- Check your water coolant/Antifreeze and washer fluid levels and top them up if necessary. Add a suitable additive to your washer fluid to prevent it from freezing.
- Check your oil level and top it up with the correct oil for your vehicle if required.
- Replace any wiper blades that are worn or damaged.
- Fully charge your mobile phone so you can call for help if your vehicle breaks down or you are delayed. Consider buying an in-car charger for your mobile phone to keep it fully charged on longer journeys.
- Check that all the vehicle’s lights are clean and working properly.
- Clear all ice and snow from the vehicle’s windows, mirrors, external light covers and number plates and fully demist all windows and mirrors before you leave. This ensures you have good all-round visibility while driving and can be seen by other road users.
- Remove the snow from your roof. You could be penalised if it falls off onto your windscreen and obscures your vision while driving or flies into the path of another car.
- If your vehicle is struggling to start, get the battery checked by your local Kwik-Fit centre.
- Prepare an emergency kit for your vehicle, which includes the contents outlined in the section below.
Severe weather can sometimes result in motorists being stranded in their vehicles overnight, especially if they are a long way from home. We recommend preparing an emergency driving kit with the following items, to keep in your boot during the winter months:
- Tow rope
- A shovel
- Wellington boots
- A reflective warning triangle
- Ice scraper and de-icer
- First aid kit (in good order)
- A working torch and spare batteries
- Jump Start Cables
- Warm clothes and blankets
- Snacks and a hot drink in a flask
- Fully charged mobile phone and in-car charger
Driving in Snow or Ice
If you are driving in the snow or on icy roads you will need to adapt your driving to suit the conditions. Here are some useful tips:
- Slow down. Stopping distances can be up to 10 times longer on snow and ice, which greatly increases your chances of skidding so leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front. Maximum speed limits can also be considered too fast for the conditions, so use caution and drive at a speed that allows you to stop safely.
- Avoid sudden braking, sharp steering and allow more time to slow down when approaching bends in the road. On slippery surfaces lift your foot off the accelerator early and use your lower gears to slow the vehicle down gradually. If you need to use the brakes apply gentle pressure.
- Accelerate smoothly. Pulling away slowly in second gear provides more traction and will help to prevent your wheels from spinning.
- If you get stuck, remove the snow from your tyres, straighten the steering wheel and place a car mat in front of both driving wheels to provide some grip.
- When driving uphill wait until the road ahead is clear to avoid stopping before you reach the top. Try and stay at a constant speed in the same gear.
- When driving downhill slow down before you get to the hill and use a low gear to avoid using the brakes. Leave plenty of braking distance between you and the vehicle in front.
- If you drive an automatic check your driver handbook for guidance. Many automatic cars have a ‘snow’ mode for the gearbox. Some manufacturers suggest using the manual ‘2’ setting on an automatic when driving off.
- If your visibility is reduced use dipped headlights.