6 snow and ice driving laws all motorists need to know – or risk a £10,000 fine

As winter begins to set in, motorists are being asked to make sure they meet all of the criteria to ensure safe winter driving and evade huge fines – here’s what you need to look out for

It's best to avoid the roads entirely if possible in snowy or icy conditions
It’s best to avoid the roads entirely if possible in snowy or icy conditions

Snow and ice present some of the most challenging conditions drivers can face on the roads.

And failing to take the necessary safety precautions can not only be lethal but also lead to some hefty fines.

Now, with rapidly dropping temperatures and snow across much of the country, drivers are being encouraged to read up on their cold weather driving so they can stay well away from danger both physically and financially.

It is, of course, best to keep away from cars and road going vehicles in snowy or icy conditions entirely with motorists urged not to drive unless they have to.

Certain elements of driving in snowy conditions can also have implications for insurance, so here’s what to look out for to prevent fines and unnecessary claims.

How can you avoid fines when driving in snow?

A car drives down the B718 during a heavy snow shower in Scotland in 2018


Getty Images)

Follow these six steps to keep yourself on the right side of the rules…

1) Defrost your car

An obvious one, but something to be wary of – leaving your engine running to warm your vehicle up and help it to defrost can compromise your insurance by failing to meet insurers’ ‘duty of care’ clauses inserted into may contracts.

According to the Sun, the AA’s insurance director Michael Lloyd, said: “Every winter we get reports of members’ cars that have disappeared off drives.

“The fact is that the keys are the weakest link in the car security chain and leaving your car unattended, unlocked and with the keys in in it is simply inviting it to be stolen.

“If it is ticking over, warming up, it makes the thief’s job very easy.

“Every insurance policy carries with it a ‘duty of care’ which means that you should take reasonable steps to protect your property and not do anything that could avoidably lead to loss or damage.

“And leaving your car with the engine running falls squarely into that category.

“No insurance company will meet a claim where you have left your car open to be stolen.”

2) Clean windows and lights

All windows need to be clear and able to see out of at all times in bad conditions. Failure to comply with this could again land you in trouble with the law.

The RAC said: “The Highway Code stipulates that if driving in adverse weather conditions you must, by law, be able to see out of every glass panel in your vehicle.

“This is supported by the section 41D of the Road Traffic Act 1988, meaning it is a legal requirement to have a clear view of the road ahead before you set off.

“Failure to do so could incur a fine, but more importantly could place your life, the lives of your passengers and the lives of those around you in danger.

“This also means ensuring your windscreen is de-iced on the outside and thoroughly demisted on the inside.”

3) Clear snow from the roof

If snow slips down from your roof and onto your windscreen you could be slapped with a £2,500 fine. This is because you would be deemed to be driving “in a dangerous condition” due to limited visibility.

The RAC says: “Even if you’re only making a two-minute journey, by not thoroughly cleaning your car of snow, ice or condensation… you’re breaking the law and leaving yourself liable to a run in with the police.”

4) Clear your license plate

Engine idling to help defrost you car can get you into all sorts of trouble


Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Your license plate needs to be clear at all times, and failure to keep it visible can lead to fines of up £1,000. Make sure you de-ice them before you drive as they can gather moisture and freeze over easily.

This is because drivers could be intentionally trying to avoid detection from cameras, and ice and snow are deemed to be something that could be used to do it.

5) Improve poor weather visibility

If visibility is poor, drivers who fail to turn on their lights can be slapped with a £1,000 fine and so be sure all of your lights work before you set off on your journey.

Be sure to turn your fog lights off after the adverse conditions have passed.

6) Get your winter tyres

Winter tyres tend to need treads of around of 3mm to be suitable for winter driving, however motorists are not recommenced to let air out of their tyres despite rumours it aids grip – it is unsafe.

Snow chains are a good option but only as long as there is enough snow on the ground to ensure the road won’t be damaged.

The best option might be to get some all weather tyres, which can provide good grip in the wet or cold and won’t require you to change them seasonally.

Be sure your tyres are correct and safe, as this is where the biggest fines can come in: you can be charged £2,500 per tyre meaning its easy to rack up a £10,000 bill.

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George Holan

George Holan is chief editor at Plainsmen Post and has articles published in many notable publications in the last decade.

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