How to drive safely in icy weather

Winter driving tips

The weather conditions are bad. There’s ice on the roads. News reports are warning people not to travel unless it’s absolutely necessary – and there you are, about to set off on a journey. You don’t want to. You know it’s not your best plan. But you really need to hit the road. So how can you get from A to B safely? Well, take a look at these winter driving safety tips.

Prepare before you hop behind the wheel

When it comes to winter safety, it’s a good idea to think not only about the drive itself, but what you might need should an accident – or a breakdown situation – occur. A little preparation could save you a lot of trouble down the line, so be sure to have the following items: warm clothes, a blanket, torch, fully-charged mobile phone, first aid kit, jump leads, a shovel, de-icing scraper, de-icing fluid, food and water. You should also ensure all emergency numbers are easy to access.

Drive slowly, smoothly and beware of hazards

If you decide your journey is absolutely essential and there’s no way you can postpone it, you must drive a lot slower than normal as your tyres won’t be able to grip the road as effectively as they usually do. Travel at a steady pace and look well into the distance for potential hazards such as traffic jams, road works and black ice that might cause your wheels to skid. Smoothness is the key to maintaining as much traction as possible, so don’t make any jerky gear or speed changes.

Take care when breaking

Winter travel safety tips shouldn’t be taken lightly. They’re there for your safety, so remember to stay well back from the car in front. It takes ten times longer to stop on ice than it does on a dry road, so never speed, tailgate or drive as you normally would on a summer’s day. When applying the brakes, do so gently and smoothly to avoid skidding. If you do skid and your car starts to spin, steer into the direction of the spin and let your car straighten up.

Take corners slowly

It may seem like common sense, but speeding around corners is highly dangerous – particularly when there’s ice on the road. While you might feel under control, someone coming the other way may not be, so it’s crucial to travel slowly so you can keep tucked in and watch for hazards. If you feel your wheels slipping as you go round a tight bend, take your foot off the accelerator and let the car slow down on its own. Never panic and slam on the brakes, as you’re likely to skid if you do so.

Use the right lights

Just because it’s icy, doesn’t mean you have to put on your fog lamps. Indeed, it can be cold and icy but wonderfully sunny at the same time. The Highway Code says that you should only use your fog lamps when the visibility drops below 100m, so if you can’t see the taillights of the car in front of you, it’s probably acceptable to use your fog lamps. What’s more, you don’t need to turn on your full beams in icy weather unless it’s extremely dark and visibility is poor. Beware that full beams dazzle other road users, so think carefully about when and where you use them.

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