Drivers Fact Sheets

Winter Driving

It is better to be safe that sorry, so read this fact sheet and be prepared.

  1. Anti-freeze: add anti –freeze to the radiator of your car. Also, to help keep your windscreen clean, add a winter additive to the windscreen wash.
  2. Battery: keep your battery fully charged
  3. Service: make sure your car has a service and is well maintained
  4. Lights: make sure that all lights are working
  5. Tyres: your tyres should have the correct amount of air in them, and have plenty of tread depth
  6. Wipers: change the blade on the windscreen wipers if they are worn
  7. Windows: clear the windows and mirrors so that it is easier to see out. The glare of the low winter sun can make it difficult to see through dirty windscreens
  8. Emergency pack: keep this in the back of the car

Your Emergency Kit

Before you set off you should decide if the journey is absolutely necessary. If it is, check the weather forecast and traffic news for current traffic and road conditions.

Keep an emergency pack in the car, consisting of:

  1. Ice scraper and de-icer
  2. Torch
  3. Warm clothes and blanket
  4. Food and drink
  5. Boots
  6. First-aid kit
  7. Battery jump leads
  8. Spade to dig your car out of the snow

The Highways Agency has a fleet of grittters working around the clock when temperatures drop or snow falls, to keep the motorways and main roads open. Local authorities are responsible for all other roads.

Rock salt mined in Cheshire and Cleveland is used which works by lowering the freezing point of moisture on the road surface, so it has to become much colder to form ice. Salt works best when traffic wears it down into the road surface and it dissolves.

Never get too close to gritters; they throw salt across all lanes of a road. You should also keep a good distance from snowploughs because they can throw up large amounts of snow. Never try to overtake snowploughs by using lanes that have not been fully cleared of snow.

Safer Ways To Drive When The Weather Is Bad

It is important to change the way you drive to fit the weather:

Snow Or Ice

  1. It can take up to ten times longer to stop when roads are icy rather than dry. So allow more room to slowdown and brake
  2. Use the highest gear possible (for example 2nd instead of 1st). This will help avoid wheel spin that could cause you to lose control of your vehicle
  3. Drive slowly, allowing extra time for braking
  4. Avoid sudden braking, sharp turns or sudden increases in speed
  5. The best way to brake without skidding is to get into lower gear earlier, let your speed go down, and brake gently
  6. If you do start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator. Do not brake suddenly

Fog

  1. Drive slowly and use dipped headlights so that other vehicles can see you
  2. Use fog lights if visibility is seriously reduced, but switch them off when visibility improves
  3. Don’t drive too close behind another vehicle to follow their rear lights – this gives a false sense of security
  4. Avoid sudden increases in speed. Fog is often patchy and you can suddenly find yourself back in thick fog

Rain

  1. It can take up to twice as long to stop when roads are wet rather than dry
  2. Keep well back from the vehicle in front of you. This will allow you to see better, and give you more time to think and slow down
  3. Your tyres may lose their grip on a road that is covered with water and your vehicle will aquaplane. If this happens take your foot off the accelerator and slow down.
  4. Do not put your foot hard on the brake
  5. Spray can make it hard to see. Slow down and keep your distance from other vehicles

Floods

(Also see separate fact sheet ‘Driving Safely Through Floods’)

  1. Don’t try to cross floods if the water seems too deep. If you have to go through a flood, drive slowly in first gear to avoid stalling the engine. Keep the engine revs high and slip the clutch
  2. Avoid the deepest water, which is usually near the kerb
  3. After you have gone through a flood, test your brakes. Only drive on at your usual speed if the brakes are fine.

Winter Sun

  1. Dazzle from low winter sun can make driving dangerous
  2. Make sure that your windscreen is completely clean
  3. Wear sunglasses if they help

If You Get Into Trouble

  1. Do not use a mobile phone if you are driving. Stop somewhere safe, or ask a person with you to make the call.
  2. On a motorway you should use the emergency telephones by the side of the road. This will make it easier for the emergency services to know exactly where you are.
  3. If you use a mobile phone, check where you are looking at the markers on the posts at the side of the road
  4. Stay with your vehicle until help comes. If you leave your vehicle, it might get in the way of the snowploughs, ambulances and other emergency vehicles
  5. Put on your warmest clothes and keep having drinks. But do not drink alcohol, as this will make your body colder
  6. If you have to leave your vehicle to get help make sure other drivers can see you and tell other people where you are going.

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I confirm I have read the fact Sheet ‘Winter Driving’

Signed………………………………………………………………Date……………………………………………..

Name of Driver……………………………………………………Vehicle Reg…………………………………