Any road journey can be made a lot harder by bad weather in winter, with shorter days resulting in poor visibility and the risk of ice and snow. Follow our winter driving guide for preparing your vehicle and driving in poor conditions to ensure your journey is as safe as possible.
To be ready to drive in winter, you need to first ensure your car has everything that might be needed for travelling in poor conditions. From having the car serviced to keeping an emergency kit to use during a breakdown, our advice on how to prepare your car for the winter will help.
Check the weather forecast before you leave and if conditions are likely to be dangerous, consider whether the journey is necessary or could be left for a safer time. When planning your route, try to stick to main roads that are more likely to be-cleared of snow.
Leave plenty of time to prepare the car, as well as for the journey itself. Scraping snow off the windows and headlights will give you the best visibility possible, plus you could be fined for not clearing them properly if you don't. Factor in the amount of time this will take before you leave the house so that you do not feel the need to drive quickly.
One piece of winter driving guidance worth remembering is how to gain traction in poor conditions. To pull away on slippery ground, use second gear to avoid wheel spin. Stopping distances on snow and ice can be ten times longer than in normal conditions, so leave plenty of space for the car in front and don't expect to be able to handle the vehicle as you would normally.
In an automatic car, select the 'Winter' setting or '2' rather than 'Drive'. This will limit the number of gear changes used, giving the car more control. Manual drivers should break earlier than usual and put the car into a low gear when approaching downhill slopes.
Even well-practiced drivers can be surprised by patches of black ice and loss of control during a skid can cause panic. The first sign of being on ice could be that the tyres are making very little noise. Do not brake too aggressively or you will skid. When in a skid, depress the clutch and steer in the direction of the skid until you regain control.
If you get stuck in snow, don't try to rev your way in one direction to escape it as this will probably have the opposite effect. Move forwards and backwards slowly and in a high gear to carve a path out of the snow.