Winter Driving

Stay safe when driving in the ice and snow


1. Drive only if your journey is really necessary

2. Allow sufficient time - avoid dusk or night driving

3. A full tank of fuel is essential - the biggest source of heat if stranded will be the car engine.

4. Make sure all lights are working, fluid levels are correct, use a stronger screen wash to prevent the windscreen freezing, make sure all windows are clean use de-icer and a suitable scraper.

5. If forced to abandon the vehicle leave it in the safest place possible.

6. Never leave the vehicle unattended with its engine running. That will nullify its insurance cover if stolen.

7. Dress for the conditions. Take a thermos of hot drink or soup and high energy food such as sweets, chocolate and glucose based snacks.

8. Have a blanket or sleeping bag and a high visibility coat or vest.

9. Have entertainment especially if transporting young children. Take sunglasses to reduce low winter sun glare, mobile phone charger, breakdown service telephone number and inform someone that you are on your journey particularly if driving in a remote area.


1. At the wheel apply gentle acceleration, steering and braking - sympathetic gentle driving is the key to travelling safely.

2. Pull away in second or third gear. In an automatic select second gear. Some automatics have a winter mode.

3. Watch your speed and remember that cyclists and pedestrians will be less visible than other vehicles

4. Stopping distances increase up to 10 times in ice and snow.

5. Never rev the engine as that only ‘polishes' snow and ice, If the vehicles start to skid, gentle lift-off the throttle and steer into the skid. Try not to brake. Use first gear as a brake.

6. Black ice is often in areas shadowed from the sun particularly on roads heading north to south so beware.

7. While the vehicle is warm inside it can be freezing outside so monitor the vehicle's external temperate meter.

8. Non-gritted roads - beware of driving in wheel-tracks because compressed snow is more likely to cause a skid than undisturbed snow.

9. Dipped headlights are essential to see and be seen. Do not use fog lights unless visibility is less than 100 meters- they dazzle oncoming vehicles and rear fog lights can obscure brake lights.

10. Avoid flashing headlights to acknowledge other drivers. It causes dazzle.


Emergency Kit: 

Put together an 'emergency kit' for long journeys particularly in winter weather.

1. Ice scraper and de-icer.
2. Torch.
3. Warm clothes and a blanket.
4. A pair of boots.
5. First aid kit.
6. Battery jump leads.
7. Shovel.

Take food and a warm drink in a flask when you are travelling in wintry weather.

If you get into trouble

If you have a mobile phone, do not use it while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call.

Abandoned vehicles can cause problems for rescue vehicles and snowploughs. To ensure that the road is cleared as quickly as possible stay with your vehicle until help arrives. If you have to leave your vehicle to get help make sure you can be seen by other vehicles.

Vehicle condition 

  • In winter it is even more important to check that your vehicle is well maintained and serviced.
  • Keep your lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow.
  • Keep your battery fully charged.
  • Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.
  • Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order.
  • Check tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the right pressure.


ID: 182, revised 13/10/2017