Are you driving to and from work this week or planning a long commute? We’ve put together some top tips on how to stay safe out there, although we urge motorists to think carefully before getting behind the wheel. What’s more, since Britain is predicted to suffer further snow showers and freezing temperatures, it’s crucial that all drivers are fully prepared for the so-called ‘snow chaos.’

Is your journey essential?

Before leaving the house, consider whether your journey is absolutely essential. Driving in the snow can be very scary as well as dangerous, especially for those who have just passed or perhaps haven’t driven in a while. If you’re planning a short commute then consider walking (providing you have appropriate footwear!) or catch a bus. Don’t put yourself at risk for the sake of going round the corner to grab a loaf of bread and some milk!

Of course, if you need to get to work and there’s no form of public transport nearby then getting behind the wheel could be your only option. With this in mind, it’s extremely important that you are fully prepared for safety purposes and know what to expect from the roads, as you embark on your journey.

Before your journey

Get up at least ten or fifteen minutes early to allow enough time to prepare your car. You’ll need this extra time to perform the following procedures:

  • Clear all snow and ice from the windows and roof. It’s absolutely vital that your clear away any now or ice on your windows and mirrors, otherwise your view of the road will be limited which is extremely dangerous. Use a scraper and de-icer to rid of any stubborn ice on your vehicle’s windows. It’s also important that you clear away any large chunks of snow from the top of your vehicle too; the snow could fall onto your windscreen and impair your visibility of the road substantially.
  • Warm your car key (if you have a frozen lock). If your car has a frozen lock then warm your car key using a cigarette lighter. Don’t breathe on the lock, as the moisture will only condense and freeze!
  • Plan your route. Plan a route along major roads that are likely to have been gritted and cleared from snow. Try to refrain from travelling down side streets (even if the traffic is bad), as you never know how treacherous the conditions will be.

Always allow extra time for winter journeys but never jeopardise your safety for punctuality; you may just have to arrive late.

Your journey

Gentle driving really is the key to safe driving in harsh weather conditions. Remember that stopping distances are ten times longer in ice and snow, so allow enough space between your vehicle and the car ahead.

  • Wear dry shoes for driving. Although this may seem a random point, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals, which can prove to be extremely dangerous, especially if your foot slips off the pedal when you need to suddenly brake. Keep a few spare pairs of shoes in the back so that you can easily change them if your current shoes happen to get sodden.
  • Always pull away in second gear, carefully easing your foot of the clutch to avoid wheel-spin.
  • Apply pressure to the brakes gently when you need to come to a halt. If the car begins to skid, release the brakes and de-clutch.
  • Stick to a steady speed at all times.

Get stuck? Straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels.

Avoid car breakdown!

Car breakdowns are more common at this time of year, especially as weather conditions can produce plenty of challenges for even the most experienced drivers. Avoid car breakdown by looking after your car’s battery and electrics and remember to keep topping up the antifreeze.

Read our Avoiding Breakdown blog for more top tips and information on how you can avoid breaking down in the snow.