How to drive in snow and ice this winter

The UK is facing its first widespread snow of the year with up to 10cm of snow forecast across vast swathes of the country.

Four separate yellow weather warnings for snow and ice have been issued as temperatures plunge, and it is expected to cause the worst travel chaos since last year’s Beast from the East.

A huge portion of the country will be gripped by wintry weather and drivers have been told not to travel in the worst weather with “treacherous conditions” on the way.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Rod Dennis said: “Drivers face some treacherous conditions as some truly wintry weather finally descends on large parts of the UK.”

Cumbria Roads Police have also urged motorists to “please slow down” as it shared an image of a car overturned between junctions 36 and 39 of the A6 near Shap.

How to drive safely in the snow

Driving in the snow can be hazardous and IAM RoadSmart has urged motorists to avoid travelling in extreme weather.

If, however, you cannot avoid driving, they have also revealed how to stay safe when doing so in the snow.

Before drivers set off, they should ensure that snow is cleared from all windows, mirrors, roof and bonnet of their vehicle so it doesn’t obscure their view

Start the car gently and if using a manual, start on a higher gear to prevent your wheels from spinning on the ice. 

When driving, make sure you drive at an appropriate speed for the conditions; it can take 10 times longer to stop a car on snow or ice.

There should be a larger-than-normal distance between you and the driver ahead, to give you time to slow down safely.

The rules for driving an automatic car are the same – give space, drive slower and don’t brake too harshly. Since you don’t have that much control over what gear to use, drivers must take ever more care to control the power to the wheels to avoid skidding.

Some automatic cars allow drivers to change into a higher or lower gear.

IAM RoadSmart’s Head of Driving Advice, Richard Gladman said: “Many of the problems associated with travel during snow could be avoided if people planned in advance.

“People routinely travel with only the minimum of safety equipment, without realising their journey could be a lot longer than expected.

“At the very least you should have a shovel, torch, blanket, jump leads and tow rope.”

Mr Gladman also advised drivers to make sure their phone is fully charged and that they have a roadside recovery number saved into it.

He added: “A bottle of water and a snack may also prove useful and don’t set out without knowing the locations of petrol stations on your way.”

Mr Dennis added: “We strongly recommend drivers reduce their speed and more than double the amount of space between themselves and the vehicle in front, giving them more time to react if they need to.

“But the bigger problem for most drivers is likely to be the threat of ice. Roads and pavements will freeze overnight, leaving glass-like surfaces that will increase the risk of drivers, cyclists and pedestrians running into difficulties.”

Stay safe, drivers.

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