Winter Driving Tips

Car wing mirror
  • Always drive according to the weather conditions
  • Give yourself time and space - arriving safely should be your aim
  • Remember, your vehicle and road safety are ultimately your responsibility

Your Vehicle

  • Clean the windscreen and all windows of frost and ice
  • Don't set off until the heater has de-misted the inside glass
  • Add a low temperature screen wash to the washer bottle
  • Carry a de-icer spray in the vehicle. Stop (in a safe place) and use it if necessary.

Your Journey

  • Allow for slower speeds - it can take up to 10 times longer to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road
  • Allow for possible hold-ups due to accidents
  • Allow for possible single lane traffic on dual carriageways due to snow
  • Keep a longer gap than normal between you and the vehicle in front. Much longer when there is ice or snow on the road
  • Brake and accelerate more gently on wet, snowy or icy surfaces
  • Use dipped headlights in mist, fog, falling snow or heavy rain
  • Do not use front or rear fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced as they dazzle other road users and can obscure your brake lights. You must switch them off when visibility improves
  • On icy, snowy or slushy roads use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. When you need to brake, get into a low gear earlier than normal and allow your speed to fall. Use the brake pedal gently
  • If you get into a skid, ease off the accelerator to slow down - do not brake suddenly
  • Winter sun can dazzle you so keep a pair of sunglasses handy.


  • If your journey is absolutely necessary - if it isn't, don't go! Listen to local and national weather forecasts and travel information
  • All lights, indicators and wipers are clean and working
  • That all tyres have a good tread depth (legal minimum is 1.6mm but it is recommended that tyres are changed when they reach 3mm) and are at the correct pressure
  • The battery is in good condition and fully charged (most winter breakdowns are electrical)
  • There is anti-freeze in the radiator and an additive in the windscreen washer bottles.


  • Give yourself plenty of time to prepare your vehicle before setting off
  • Driving in adverse conditions can be extremely tiring so be prepared to take extra breaks during your journey
  • Ensure you have 'outside' clothing, a torch and in snowy conditions, a shovel, with you in case you have to get out of your vehicle
  • Watch out for vulnerable road users - you share responsibility for their safety
  • Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive.

Driving in fog

  • Drive very slowly with dipped headlights
  • Use fog lights if visibility is seriously reduced but remember to switch them off when visibility improves
  • Don't hang on to the tail lights of the vehicle in front as this can give you a false sense of security
  • Don't speed up suddenly even if the it looks like it is clearing - you could find yourself suddenly back in thick fog.

Driving in flood conditions

  • Drive slowly in first gear but keep the engine speed high by slipping the clutch to prevent stalling
  • Avoid driving near the kerb where the water is usually deepest
  • Don't attempt to cross if the water seems too deep
  • Remember to test your brakes when you are through the flood before you drive at normal speed.

In case of trouble

If you have a mobile phone, do not use it while driving. Stop somewhere safe or ask a passenger to make the call for you. Using your mobile phone while driving (hands-free or not) makes you four times as likely to have a crash.

On a motorway, it is best to use a roadside emergency telephone as the breakdown and emergency services will be able to locate you easily. If you have to use a mobile, make sure you know your location using the numbers on the marker posts on the side of the hard shoulder.

Abandoned vehicles could cause problems for rescue vehicles or 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 drivers.

Winter Maintenance Vehicles

Drivers of Council vehicles salting and snowploughing the highways take all possible precautions to protect the safety of other road users.

Salting vehicles are extremely powerful and travel at around 35mph - aim to keep a safe distance behind them and don't be tempted to overtake.

Take particular care of irregular accumulations of snow caused by snowploughing. Don't be tempted to overtake snowploughs by squeezing into partially cleared lanes.

For more safer driving tips visit the following websites:

Car windscreen covered in ice