The white stuff has well and truly hit, and if you were one of the many of drivers struggling along on slippy, slushy roads this morning here are our top tips on how best to drive in snow:
Always check weather reports and traffic news before setting off. Conditions may not be too bad when you start your journey, but that can quickly change. If you don’t have winter tyres, stick on main roads that are more likely to have been gritted and avoid routes that have steep inclines and declines.
Prepare for all eventualities
Keep a bag of essential items in the car boot should the worst happen and you break down – food, water, blankets, warm clothes and a high-vis jacket are worth carrying and won’t be regretted should you be stranded for a while awaiting recovery.
See and be seen
Allocate an extra five minutes to warm your car up, and clear snow from all the windows before you set off. Ensure your screenwash isn’t frozen and your wipers are free of ice. Make sure your headlights are on to give extra visibility and to make you more visible to other road users
Avoid any sudden actions – sudden steering, braking or accelerating. If you’re struggling for tyre grip, don’t accelerate excessively – spinning the wheels will only make things worse. Don’t stick in first gear either – try using second gear which will help you gain grip without spinning easily. In automatics, select winter mode and in manuals try to feel grip with the clutch.
In snowy and icy conditions, it takes longer to stop and turn. So reduce your speed and leave lots of extra room between you and the car in front. Be extra aware of all other road users around you and watch out for vehicles that may be sliding or losing control. Snow-covered signs and obscured kerbs mean you should pay extra attention to the road infrastructure.
Brake properly and use your gears
Keep the speed slow and steady and avoid sudden accelerating and sharp braking It’s easier to maintain a steady speed than slow down. Leave big braking distances – apply the brake pedal gently and avoid triggering the ABS. Use your gears properly using working down through the gears to help slow your car.
Know your car’s safety systems
If you’ve got ESP, the stability control element will help you when driving in snow, especially if you slide. But traction control can sometimes kill power too much and make it hard to get moving in heavy snow. Most cars will allow you to turn off the traction element of the stability control. If you have an automatic, check whether you have a winter mode and use that.
Don’t panic if you slide
If the front wheels start to push across the road, don’t crank on more lock. Ease off the throttle, don’t break sharply but straighten the steering to allow the tyres to regain grip. If the rear of the car starts to drift, steer into the direction you are sliding – known as applying opposite lock. Always look where you want the car to go.
If you get stuck
If you get stuck whist driving in snow and abandon your car, try to move it as far off the road as possible so that you don’t block the way for drivers who are able to continue. If the car starts to slide back down an incline, crank the steering to full lock and apply the handbrake – this will lock the rear wheels, while the fronts will build a bank of snow like a plough, slowing your descent.