Driving in the snow can be a challenge. Discover more on how to drive safely in winter with our tips on driving in the snow.
- Be prepared for adverse weather
- Take care of your car
- Understand your car insurance policy
Driving safely on snowy roads
If you wake up to snow and need to travel, it’s wise to ensure your car is winter ready before you start driving.
Make sure your windscreen is completely clear from snow, ice and debris before you start the engine. It's a legal requirement to clear all windows, and to be able to see out of all glass panels in your vehicle. It's also recommended to clear your headlights, side mirrors and registration plates, as well as your car roof from snow, ice or debris.
Five tips to stay safe while driving in the snow:
- If in doubt, slow down but try to keep your speed consistent.
- Limit any distractions.
- Leave a generous stopping distance between you and the vehicle in front.
- Only overtake when there’s a clear amount of space and no obstructions.
- Where possible, avoid lower gears and give yourself enough time to brake slowly.
What to do if you skid on snow
There are four important steps if your car begins to skid on snowy roads:
1. Avoid the brakes – Many drivers will automatically put their foot on the brake if a car skids but suddenly slamming on the brakes can make your vehicle skid further.
2. Turn the wheel – Turning the vehicle into the skid can help you straighten your car safely back into place on the road.
3. Slow down – The slower you drive, the more easily you can get your vehicle into a safe position.
4. Keep calm – Skidding on snowy roads can be frightening but staying calm will help you handle the situation.
To better avoid the chance of skidding in snow, you can take some extra precautions in advance.
“Having the correct tyre pressure and tyre tread depth will maximise your tyres' ability to maintain their road grip,” says Kevin Clinton, head of road safety at the Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents (@RoSPA).
You should check the pressure of your tyres every two weeks, ensuring the tread depth is at the appropriate level to help maintain their grip on the road.
You will also use your battery more in winter by having your lights on more often and using the heater. Check your battery level before use so you’re not caught out when driving in adverse weather conditions. You should also have your car regularly serviced to keep it in the best possible condition for any weather.
From ice to snow, sleet and fog, you never know what you’re going to get. Being prepared for anything will help prevent tricky situations, especially in snowy conditions.
What if you get caught out in heavy snow?
The wisest option may be to stop somewhere safe until the worst passes, but lay-bys can be very difficult to spot in a blizzard. It’s important to know your road signs when driving in extreme conditions.
Kevin Clinton says: “If you see an octagonal sign, it's a 'Stop' sign, the only one shaped like that. If you see an inverted triangle, it's a 'Give Way' sign, again the only one that shape. So even if they are covered in heavy snow, and you can't see any road markings either, you know where the junctions are.”
Take our quiz to brush up on your knowledge of UK road signs .
What's the advice if your car breaks down?
If you break down in the snow, here’s what to do:
- If you are stranded in the middle of the road, put your hazard lights on so oncoming traffic can see you in advance.
- Avoid leaving the car unless there is somewhere safe to wait. Leaving the vehicle while the roads are dangerous or dark puts you at risk as a pedestrian.
- Call your breakdown service, or the emergency services should you need them, and wait for them to arrive.
Build a winter car kit
Make sure you have plenty of extra warm clothing in your car. If you breakdown and the heater isn’t working, it’s important to keep yourself warm and protected in the cold weather. Even if the heater is working, you run the risk of draining your battery. It’s a good idea to keep spare blankets, cardigans and jumpers in the car just in case.
You should ensure you also have a pair of winter boots or wellies, as well as a torch with spare batteries and a first aid kit.
Being prepared is a massive step to stay safe when driving in the snow. Know what to do, check how your insurer can support you, and have a winter car kit ready just in case.
Get a car insurance quote from LV= or combine multiple policies into one with multi-car cover.
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