Driving in snow and icy conditions
Take extra care on the roads during ice and snow conditions. Stopping distances can increase tenfold in the ice and snow, and if you can’t see clearly, you can’t react to hazards.
Driving in bad weather can be lethal.
- If possible, avoid driving in snow and other treacherous conditions.
- Never set off when it’s snowing heavily or if it is forecast to snow, and avoid other bad conditions like heavy rain, ice or fog.
- Consider using public transport.
- If you drive to work, try to plan to work from home (particularly if you live in a rural area).
Before you set off
- Clear ice, snow and condensation completely from your windscreen and all windows before setting off.
- Clear snow off the roof of your vehicle too, as it might fall and obscure your vision during your journey.
- Check the weather forecast in advance and plan your journey. The Met Office provides up-to-date forecasts, and issues warnings when severe weather is likely.
- Test your brakes to ensure they are working properly.
- Check your emergency kit. You should have an ice scraper, de-icer, warm clothes, a warning triangle, a high visibility jacket, a torch, a blanket, warm clothes, food and drink, a first-aid kit and a map.
- Make sure someone else knows where you are going, and the route you intend to take.
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged so that you can quickly raise the alarm if you need to.
Drive with care
If you do get caught in bad weather, follow these steps to minimise the dangers.
- Stick to the major roads which are more likely to be cleared and gritted and allow plenty of time for potential hold-ups
- Slow right down and only travel at speeds at which you can stop within the distance you can see to be clear
- Maintain a safe space between you and the vehicle in front
- Be extra vigilant for people and hazards
- Avoid hard braking and accelerating, or sharp steering
- Take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily to avoid skidding
- Never brake if the vehicle skids, instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly in the direction of the skid until you gain control
- Use lights accordingly – fog lights in foggy conditions, dipped headlights when visibility is reduced etc
- On roads which are very icy, use a low gear (one to three).
Updates on the move
- Keep listening to the radio for traffic and weather updates
- On motorways, look out for overhead message signs where the Highways Agency will flash up important messages, including warning you of delays and advising alternative routes
- We recommend checking the Met Office website for weather updates in your area.