When the snow starts to fall or the gales begin to howl our driving skills are pushed to the limit - follow our handy guide on how to drive properly in bad conditions and hopefully you'll have a better trip.
In severe or winter weather it's even more important to plan your journey. Take a few minutes before you set off to check the latest information either online, using your smart phone or by tuning into your local radio station. These checks could make all the difference to your journey.
- Check weather updates.
- Check travel updates.
For updates on the move, pay attention to overhead messages which flash up to display important travel messages, warning you of delays and advising of alternative routes.
Stick to the main roads where you can and avoid exposed routes. The Highways Agency looks after motorways and major A roads and work hard to keep these networks clear during severe weather.
Drive with care and respect the road conditions wherever you drive - not every road can be treated so you need to take more care when driving on minor roads. It's not just the salt treatment that helps cut through snow and ice, it's also the amount of traffic too.
Steep hills and exposed roads are also likely to present more challenging conditions, so if you can avoid these as it might make your journey easier.
Always allow extra time in severe weather. Listen to warnings and consider whether or not your journey is essential.
Did You Know? Reasons to Fit Winter Tyres
At present there is no Winter or cold weather tyre legislation in the UK, however the average temperature in the UK from October to March is in the region of 2.5ºC so fitting Winter tyres will enhance the driving safety of your vehicle during the colder months - even if it's not snowing.
Winter Tyres Give You:
- Improved driving performance when the temperature falls below 7ºC.
- Greater aquaplaning resistance on wet or slushy roads.
- Shorter stopping distances on ice, snow and wet roads.
- No loss of performance or comfort in normal conditions.
- Increased tyre life during the Winter and colder weather months.
- Compliance with most stringent European legislation should you need to take your car abroad.
Check your vehicle is ready for winter and always carry an emergency kit. Regular servicing and maintenance of your vehicle to ensure it is in good running order before setting out will reduce your chances of breaking down.
It's worth making these checks regularly - and particularly before a long winter journey:
- Check the anti-freeze
- Make sure your lights are clean and check the bulbs are working
- Ensure your windscreen is clean and the water bottle is full
- Replace the battery if it's not reliable
- Ensure your tyres are correctly inflated and replace them before the tread has reached the legal limit
Don't forget to carry an emergency kit just in case. Gather together the items below and pack in your car at the start of the Winter season. You never know when you might need them:
- Ice scraper and de-icer.
- Torch and spare batteries (or a wind-up torch).
- Warm clothes and blankets for you and your passengers.
- Wellington boots.
- First aid kit.
- Jump leads.
- A shovel.
- Road atlas.
- Sunglasses (the glare from the snow can be dazzling).
Then, before each journey in severe weather conditions make sure you clear any snow and ice from all windows, lights and number plates. Make sure you can see clearly and can be seen.
Don't forget to ensure your mobile phone is fully charged (but don't use it whilst driving) and consider taking some food and a warm drink in a flask in case you do get stuck.
Road and weather conditions may change, so drive with care. Pay attention to the changing road, traffic and weather conditions. Be ready to slow down and take more care if you need to, particularly on bends and exposed roads. Don't be lulled into a false sense of security even if you drive every day on the same stretch of road. You can use the Highways Agency's information services to check for delays on major roads, they work closely with the Met Office to make sure they have the latest information on weather conditions.