Winter Driving

A few simple tips for driving in the Snow

With the colder winter months upon us it is highly likely that we could once again experience heavy bouts of snow, and it is important to be prepared.

Firstly the advice is to only travel if necessary in heavy snow and if you do need to travel that you make sure you plan your journey carefully.

Always make sure you have the following:

  1. Warm drink and food
  2. Warm clothing (extra layers & blankets etc)
  3. Gloves
  4. De-icer/ice scraper
  5. Spade
  6. Jump leads

It might also be advisable to have a torch and a first aid kit handy.

Before setting off

  1. Plan your journey and try where possible to stick to the main roads and avoid small, country lanes as these are less likely to be gritted.
  2. Ensure you have cleared off all the snow and ice from your windows.
  3. Ensure lights are clean.
  4. Demist all windows thoroughly and ensure you can see sufficiently in your mirrors.
  5. Clear snow from roof and bonnet as this can full when driving causing a danger to other road users.

Driving in the snow

  1. When you set off, start in a higher gear than usual, 2nd gear for example is normally ok on a flat surface.
  2. If you do experience wheel-spin, avoid racing the engine as this will make it more difficult.  Instead, try to roll backwards and gently forwards.  Be prepared to clear snow from around the wheels with a spade.
  3. Increase the gap from the vehicle in front – stopping distances are 10 times longer in snow and ice.
  4. Drive slowly and in the highest gears possible.
  5. If you do need to brake, try to brake as gently as possible – it is better to ease off the accelerator early and use engine braking where possible.
  6. When approaching an uphill, try to engage the correct gear early that will make it all the way up.  Avoiding changing down half way up.
  7. When going downhill, ease off the accelerator well before the descent and engage a lower gear as this will keep your speed down.
  8. Ensure you are planning what’s coming up and start slowing gradually for corners and junctions etc.

You also need to be aware of other road users when driving in snow and ice.  Try to drive defensively and anticipate other road users who may be out of control.  For example, when driving past a T-junction, watch out for cars that are coming out of the junction and unable to stop.

Snow driving can be a daunting prospect, as I say if you do have to drive in snow and ice, drive very carefully and make sure you allow yourself plenty of time.  For pupils who have recently passed their driving test, you might want to consider having a snow driving lesson or include it as part of a Pass Plus package, which gives you increased confidence in driving in a variety of tricky driving conditions. Contact me for more information.