Even experienced drivers can be caught out when bad weather arrives but good preparation before your journey can give you the all confidence you need for driving in the snow.
If extreme weather is forecast, avoid driving in the snow unless your journey is essential. However good your vehicle, there is always the risk of being caught in a jam when other drivers are unable to cope. Bad weather can arrive while you are away from home, however, and planning ahead can make the return trip safer and less stressful.
- At the beginning of winter, ensure that your vehicle is properly serviced and discuss with your mechanic whether snow tires will be appropriate. These are effective but can be expensive. A cheaper alternative is a pair of snow socks or tire chains that you can fit quickly to the drive tires when traction is poor.
- Other essentials for your winter kit are a small shovel to dig a path for your wheels if you get stuck, a tow rope, jump leads, a warm blanket, water and a snack. A sizeable torch and phone charger should be in your car already. Always have good outdoor clothing including hat and boots with you in winter. When properly equipped, driving in the snow will be less daunting.
- Before you set off, clear as much snow from your car as possible to aid visibility and ensure your fuel tank is full. Call your destination to give an estimated time of arrival based on weather conditions. As you set off, remember that slow and steady is the secret when driving in the snow. Use dipped headlights and avoid rapid changes of speed.
- It is vital to look ahead as you drive to anticipate corners or junctions. If you need to brake, press the pedal repeatedly without letting the brakes lock until you stop. Try to stick to well-used routes where you can, even if it means a detour, as these will be clearer.
If the Worst Happens
- When driving in the snow, you may feel the car begin to skid. Take your foot off the accelerator and depress the clutch while steering in the direction you want to go until your car is stable again.
- If you do get stuck in blizzard conditions, stay calm. Leave your vehicle only if help can be reached nearby, otherwise leave a window slightly open and run your engine and car heater periodically to stay warm. Try to keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow while you await rescue.