Wise Driving Tips

Weather can be unpredictable. Severe weather conditions can arise when least expected and be extremely dangerous if you’re on the road.

Driving is a risky business at the best of times – 5 people die on UK roads every day – so hazards such as darkness, rain, fog, ice, and even low sunshine, only add to the danger. Use this advice to help you stay safe in winter. Find out the most secure vehicles on these freightliner trucks for sale deals.

Before you set off

  • Consider whether your journey is necessary – the best way to stay safe in bad weather is to stay off the roads.
  • Check forecasts and traffic news – both local and national.
  • Consider your route – bear in mind that some types of road are particularly dangerous in certain conditions. For example, steep country roads are treacherous in icy weather and some roads are more susceptible to flooding and strong side winds than others.
  • Check your emergency kit – ensure your vehicle is properly stocked.
  • Check tyres – tread depth should be at least 3mm to be safe in wet or icy conditions and tyres should be inflated to the
    pressure recommended by the manufacturer.
  • Check lights and wipers – ensure they are fully functioning.
  • Clean windscreen, windows and mirrors – ensure they are totally clear of snow, ice or steam.
  • Plan your journey – try to stick to major routes, give yourself plenty of time and allow for possible hold-ups.
  • Inform someone – of your intended route and time of arrival.
  • Ensure you’re fit to drive – it’s crucial to ensure that your driving is not impaired by drink, drugs, medicine, stress, tiredness or a distraction like a mobile phone at any time of year, but you especially need to be focused and fit to drive in adverse conditions.

driving in the snow in uk

Basic principles for driving in bad weather

The best way to be safe in extremely bad weather is to avoid driving at all. But bad weather can be unpredictable and it’s common to get caught out while on the road. These basic safe driving principles apply in all adverse conditions:

  • Slow right down – if visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, it will take you longer to react to hazards and your speed should be reduced accordingly.
  • Maintain a safe gap behind the vehicle in front – stopping distances are double in the wet and ten times greater in icy weather. The gap between you and the vehicle in front is your braking space in a crisis.
  • Look out for vulnerable road users – be aware that people on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in adverse weather and in the dark. Drive as though someone could step out in front of you at any time.

Look out for signs warning of adverse conditions – including fixed signs, such as those warning of exposure to high-winds, and variable message signs on motorways that warn of fog, snow, and which may display temporary slower speed limits.

  • Stay in control – avoid harsh braking and acceleration and carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care.
  • Use lights – put lights on in gloomy weather, when visibility is reduced. Use front and rear fog lights in dense fog

Driving in specific conditions: 

It’s wise to have an understanding of how best to handle specific conditions.

Snow, ice and slush

  • Make sure the windscreen and back and side windows are thoroughly de-iced on the outside and de-steamed on the inside before setting off – don’t simply clear a ‘porthole’ to look through
  • If snow or hail is falling, use wipers to keep the windscreen clear.
  • Maintain at least a 10-second gap between you and the vehicle in front. It takes 10 times further to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road
  • Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin, but taking care not to let your speed creep up.
  • Brake gently to avoid locking the wheels. Get into a low gear earlier than normal and allow the speed of the vehicle to fall gradually.
  • Take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily, rather than with jerky movements, to avoid skidding.
  • Never brake if the vehicle skids. Instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you gain control.