As we enter the winter months and the adverse weather conditions set in – it’s time to think about preparing for those journeys we face in less than ideal driving conditions.
Driving in the snow is one of the scariest and most dangerous conditions we face so we’ve put together some this guide to help prepare you for when you’re faced with snow.
- Ask the question – “Do I really need to drive now?”
- Before You Drive in Snow
- Tips for Driving in Snow
- Do I Need Winter Tyres, Snow Socks or Snow Chains?
Ask the question – “Do I really need to drive now?”
If it’s snowing and the roads are covered in thick, icy snow – the first thing you should do is ask yourself – “is this car journey really necessary?” If you can avoid a journey – then do!
Before You Drive in Snow
If you do have to drive, it’s always best to be prepared. Before you set off, make sure you have packed:
- water to drink
- something to eat
- a blanket just in case you get stuck
- a mobile phone charger
- a first aid kit
- sunglasses - to help reduce the glare of low winter sun
Plan Your Journey
The last thing you want to do when you’re driving in snowy, icy conditions is to be distracted on the road. It’s always best to plan your route ahead to that you know exactly where you are going.
Use a route planning app such as Google Maps or Waze to plan your journey - these tools will also let you know if there are accidents up ahead. Try to stick to main roads if possible as country lanes are often very icy and can be more dangerous to drive on.
Leave Plenty of Time
A rushed journey when the roads are snowy is far from ideal. Try to leave as much time as possible to complete your journey, and factor in time to de-ice your car (windscreen, mirrors and windows). You’ll also need to remove snow from the roof of your car if it’s collected there - it is illegal to drive off without doing this.
It’s always a good idea to pack de-icer in case you need to tackle an icy windscreen and windows on your return journey.
Tips for Driving in Snow
Here are our tips for driving in snowy conditions:
- remember that stopping distances are greater in snow and ice
- drive at the right speed for the conditions - not too fast so that you risk losing control, but not too slow either
- brake, steer and accelerate as smoothly as possible
- leave plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front of you
- if you skid, steer gently into it - don’t take your hands off the steering wheel and don’t brake sharply
- use your fog lights if you can’t see more than 100 metres in front of you
- watch out for black ice - particularly on road surfaces which might not have seen much sun, such as the edges of country lanes
Do I Need Winter Tyres, Snow Socks or Snow Chains?
If you live in a part of the UK which sees regular snowfall in winter, you might want to consider investing in winter tyres, snow socks or snow chains.
Most cars are fitted with summer tyres as standard - winter tyres provide additional grip for driving in icy, snowy conditions.
Although winter tyres can improve a car’s performance significantly, they are not able to tackle driving in deep snow.
Snow socks are a great “middle ground” option and work well in slushy, wet snow conditions (perfect for the UK!). They are a lot easier to fit than snow chains and provide more grip than winter tyres. They are also a more economical choice, compared to snow chains.
Snow chains offer the best grip for driving in snowy conditions and are best suited for driving in deep snow - you shouldn’t really need them in the UK, unless we’re experiencing deep, heavy snow.
Be aware that badly fitted snow chains can cause bodywork, suspension and brake pipe damage, so it’s best to ensure that you know what you’re doing before attempting to fit them.
It’s so important to remember that no matter what – stay safe and respect the road and the conditions! Your safety is the most important thing.