Driving in snow

Don’t try to drive in bad snow conditions unless you have to. Without a 4×4 you won’t get far and you may get stuck. If you do, you won’t be happy!

For severe weather warnings

Before you travel in severe weather conditions, keep up to date with the latest weather conditions

Gentle manoeuvres are the key to safe driving in snow and ice

  • Reducing speed will minimise the chances of skidding. Your stopping distance can be up to TEN times more in these conditions.
  • Drive at a safe stopping speed. Travel at a speed at which you can stop safely within the distance you can see to be clear.
  • Pulling away in second gear and easing your foot off the clutch gently will help avoid wheelspin.
  • Avoid harsh driving. Accelerate and brake gently and reduce speed smoothly.
  • Slow down in plenty of time before bends and corners.
  • When slowing down on snow and ice you need to avoid locking your wheels. To do this, put the car into a lower gear earlier than usual and as the speed drops use your brakes gently.
  • Increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front. You may need up to TEN TIMES the normal distance for braking.
  • Retain good ventilation in the car at all times. You can quickly become drowsy if the heat is turned up too high.
  • Keep good visibility. When driving in snow you may need to make regular stops to keep your windscreen and lights as clear as possible for best visibility.
  • In falling snow visibility will be reduced so use dipped headlights or fog lights to make you seen to others (especially pedestrians). As conditions improve fog lights should only be on if necessary as they can dazzle other drivers.

If you get stuck in snow

  • If you get stuck in snow do not rev the engine this will only make the rut your wheels are in worse. Instead, move the car slowly backwards and forwards out of the rut using the highest gear you can.
  • If this doesn’t work you may need to ask for a push or get your shovel out.
  • This is when you hope you have packed your emergency kit including warm clothing, some food (chocolate), water and a mobile phone.
  • Stay in or close to your car as in heavy snow it is easily to become disorientated.
  • Call your breakdown service or the emergency services and let help come to you.
  • If trapped in the car stay warm by running the engine, BUT it is vital the exhaust pipe is not blocked by snow. If the engine fumes are unable to escape you could be overwhelmed by carbon monoxide which is highly toxic. So if there is any risk of fumes coming into the car, do not run the engine. Even if it is safe the engine should only be run for 15 minutes in each hour.
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