How To Drive Safely In Winter

Weather can vary considerably over a very short period of time and distance. Winter can often strike suddenly and severely, leaving motorists unprepared for the conditions. This is an essential guide to driving safely in winter from GEM Motoring Assist, the leading UK driver based road safety association.

Winter driving checklist

Before winter weather arrives, check that your vehicle:

  • is properly maintained and serviced
  • tyres have plenty of tread depth, are in good condition and correctly inflated (don’t forget the spare)
  • radiator contains anti-freeze and the cooling system is free from leaks
  • battery is in good condition (many garages / battery suppliers will carry out this check free of charge)
  • windscreen wipers and washers are working effectively
  • washer bottles are full and contain anti-freezing / cleaning additive.

Before driving in winter weather check that:

  • all lights are clean and working properly
  • all windows and mirrors are clean and clear from snow and ice.

Winter driving tips

  • use dipped headlights in poor visibility
  • reduce your speed compared to ‘normal’ driving conditions
  • keep a safe stopping distance behind the vehicle in front. It takes much longer to stop in wet or icy conditions
  • avoid harsh braking, acceleration and steering
  • keep a careful watch out for other road users especially motorcyclists, pedal cyclists and young pedestrians.

Plan your journey

Before setting out on a journey during winter weather conditions make the following checks:

  • is the journey absolutely necessary?
  • check the local and national weather forecasts
  • obtain travel information and road conditions from local and national radio
  • ensure that the vehicle has a full fuel tank
  • give an estimated time of arrival at your proposed destination
  • take the appropriate equipment with you. Consider the following: mobile phone, warm clothing / footwear, torch, shovel, hot drink, food, fluorescent / reflective tabard / jacket, warning triangle, and a mat or sacking for extra grip in deep snow
  • finally ask yourself again if the journey is necessary.

Once on your way

  • if you get into trouble, try not to abandon your vehicle, stay with it until help arrives
  • if you are forced to leave your vehicle make yourself visible by wearing a fluorescent / reflective tabard / jacket.



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