Top Tips for Driving in Snow and Ice
We all know that the best advice about driving in snow and ice is don’t! But what if you have to drive? Follow these tips for winter, and hopefully you will stay safe.
- Be prepared. Pack your winter emergency kit now, and put it in your car. It should contain ice scraper and de-icer, torch and batteries, blanket, spade, old sacks, some food and water, and a small bag of de-icing salt or grit salt, which you can buy from rock salt suppliers. You might also want a set of snow chains.
- Before you start driving, make sure that your windscreen and windows are fully cleared of ice. Use de-icer and an ice scraper, and also scrape any snow off the roof and lights before you leave.
- Wear comfortable, dry shoes to drive, not heavy, snowy boots.
- When starting your car in the cold, always turn off heater, lights and other electrical items before trying to start it. If it doesn’t start immediately, use the starter in short sharp bursts of about 5 seconds, then wait 30 seconds before trying again. Turn down the heater as soon as you can once you’ve got going, to save your battery.
- Give yourself more time in the snow. You really don’t want to be rushing, so you might need to get up earlier or fix meetings for later in the day. And plan your route to use major roads as much as possible, as they are much more likely to have been gritted and/or cleared of snow than minor ones.
- In snow, always pull away in second gear, not first, as you get better grip and less wheel spin. On hills, give yourself plenty of room, and try to avoid having to stop on the way up. If necessary, wait at the bottom until the car in front has reached the top. On the way down, give yourself room again, and try to slow down before you start going downhill. Avoid using the brakes if you can, but if you have to use them, do so very gently.
- If you get stuck, don’t spin the wheels. Straighten the wheel, and put old sacks or grit salt under the front of the driving wheels to give you more grip. Move away gently in second gear. Once you’re moving, try not to stop until you’re on firm ground again!
- If you get stranded, don’t leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, and how far to the nearest warm place. Wrap up warm in the blanket, and run your car engine and heater for 10 minutes every hour or so, provided you have enough fuel.
Above all, always remember that if you can avoid a journey in snow, you should.