Follow our handy guide on how to drive properly in bad conditions and hopefully you'll have a better trip.
Watch out for Ice.
Even after roads have been treated in winter, driving conditions may remain challenging, especially on stretches where the local road layout or landscape means there is a greater risk of ice forming. Watch out for locations where you may need to drive more carefully, either because of side winds or a greater risk of ice. Some common examples are:
- Changes in road elevation or exposure.
- Where the road passes under or over a bridge .
- Things at the side of the road that shade the carriageway, such as trees and bridges.
- When you leave a busy road, where the amount of traffic has helped keep the road clear and turn into a quieter side road or slip road.
- Bends in the road where there is a greater risk of loss of control.
- Reduce your speed when approaching a bend and don't brake suddenly.
Driving in Fog.
- Use dipped headlights so other drivers can see you .
- If it's really foggy (less than 100m visibility) and you can't see much, then switch your fog lights on.
- Fog is often patchy so try not to speed up as visibility improves. You could suddenly find yourself back in thick fog.
Driving Through Ice and Snow.
- Clear any snow on the roof and from your lights before you drive off. It can slip down over the windscreen and obscure your view.
- It's not always obvious that the road is icy. Look for clues such as ice on the pavement or on your windscreen before you start your journey. If your tyres are making virtually no noise on the road it could be a sign that you're driving on ice.
- Don't brake harshly - you risk locking up your wheels and you could skid further.
- In severe cold or snowy conditions, look out for Winter service vehicles spreading salt or using snow ploughs. They'll have flashing amber beacons and will be travelling at slower speeds - around 40 miles per hour. Stay well back because salt or spray is thrown across the road. Don't overtake unless it is safe to do so - there may be uncleared snow or previously untreated surfaces on the road ahead.
Starting off in Snow.
Even when the main roads are clear, the side roads can often be snow-covered because they won't have been treated and there is less traffic.
- Avoid revving your engine and spinning your wheels on the slippery surface. Slow and steady works best. Try starting off gently in second gear. Then move into third and avoid sudden steering and braking.
- Anticipating the road ahead of you becomes even more important, to keep you moving steadily where you can rather than having to stop and then start off again - especially on hills.
Did You Know?
Switching to Winter tyres from October to March gives you improved driving performance when the temperature falls below 7ÂºC and below. And shorter braking distances on ice, snow and wet roads.
Driving in the Rain.
When the road is wet, it can take twice as long to stop. So it makes sense to slow down and maintain a safe distance from the vehicle in front.
- If your vehicle loses its grip, or "aquaplanes" on surface water, take your foot off the accelerator to slow down .
Driving in Windy Weather.
Take extra care on the roads and plan your journey by checking the latest weather conditions.
High-sided vehicles are particularly affected by windy weather but strong gusts can also blow a vehicle, cyclist, motorcyclist, or horse rider off course. This can happen on open stretches of road exposed to strong crosswinds, or when passing bridges, high-sided vehicles or gaps in trees.
Did You Know?
Worn tyres add two lengths to your cars stopping distance at 50mph in wet conditions.
What to Do if You Break Down on the Motorway
Firstly, stay calm, then follow these steps to ensure you stay safe:
Pull onto the hard shoulder, park as far over to the left as you can, away from traffic and turn on your hazard warning lights.
Get yourself and any passengers out of the vehicle immediately, using the doors on the left hand side, furthest from the traffic. While you wait for help, keep well away from the carriageway and hard shoulder - stand over the barrier if it's safe to do so - and do not try even the simplest of repairs.
Try to use the emergency roadside telephones rather than a mobile phone. This will help traffic officers and emergency services know exactly where you are.
*Stopping distances: Tests carried out by the Motor Industry Research Association (MIRA) involving four different vehicles travelling on wet roads on four different tread depths. At 50 mph on 3mm tread depth stopping distance = 31.7 metres. On 1.6 mm tread depth stopping distance was increased 39.5 metres.