How to drive safely in snow and ice – 8 tips to follow before you leave and on the road

Driving in winter can be challenging with snow, ice and poor visibility making the roads a harder place to navigate – follow these top tips from a range of experts to help you stay safe over the cold months

Wintry conditions are forecast for much of the UK
Wintry conditions are forecast for much of the UK

Winter is in full swing, with parts of the country experiencing snow and icy conditions over the past days and more set to come.

For many though, the hazardous conditions won’t signal a stop to business as usual with millions of Brits still needing to travel to work and school.

But driving in the snow and ice can not only be tricky but extremely dangerous, too. With seriously reduced grip and often limited visibility, getting your preparation right and knowing how to cope is vital.

Winter driving experts Chill Insurance have put together some top tips for getting around safely in wintry conditions.

Top tips for driving in snow and ice

There are things you need to keep in mind before you leave and on the road


Andy Commins / Daily Mirror)

Know how to get out of a spin

Many drivers have fallen victim to getting stuck in the snow. While huge drifts may not be par for the course in the UK, the need to dig yourself out of a wheel-spinning hole can happen more than you might think.

Make sure you have a shovel in your boot for just this reason.

Another useful tip is to stick some old potato sacks in your boot. If your car gets stuck in snow you can place them under the wheels to stop them spinning and help you get moving again.

See and be seen

Make sure you clear all the snow and ice from the lights of your car before you set off. Make sure to uncover your fog lights too to help navigate through blizzard conditions.

Being seen is just as important as being able to see yourself, so make sure you take it just as seriously.

When you’re clearing your windscreen, use a scraper or de-icer spray and never pour hot water on it because this could break the glass.

This is backed up by the experts at Nationwide Vehicle Contracts, who suggest using alcohol spray to get snow and ice from your windscreen quickly.

All you need is some tap water, a spray bottle and some rubbing alcohol.

Plastic bag your wing mirror overnight

Driving on hills can be especially challenging in winter



If you suspect frost is due overnight, pop a plastic bag over each wing mirror, Nationwide say. Tie up the bags with an elastic band.

When you remove them the next morning your mirrors should be ice-free.

Tread carefully

The treads on your tyres are very important when it comes to driving in snowy conditions. Treads improve grip and help you brake – two things that be under threat in wintry conditions.

Although a 1.6mm depth is the legal minimum and will help you avoid a potential £2,500 fine per tyre, this doesn’t mean it is the safest it can be.

Try and aim for a depth of 2-3mm when driving in winter.

An easy hack for checking your tyres are in good enough condition for winter driving is by using a 20p coin.

The outer band on a 20p is around 2mm thick. Insert one into your tyre’s tread groove – if any of the band is above the level of the tyre then it isn’t likely to be deep enough.

Leave space

You can risk a crash if you drive too close to other vehicles and objects when it’s icy



Motoring experts Halfords point out another crucial tip for when you’re out on the road in snow or ice.

Make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the car in front. This is because your stopping distances will be greatly increased by reduced grip and so you will need more time and space to slow your car down safely.

Be smooth

When driving in with little grip it’s crucial you drive as smoothly as possible. This includes braking, steering and changing gear.

Sudden, jerky movements will increase the chances of you skidding.

Don’t stop on a hill

If you can foresee that you will need to stop on a hill, wait at the top or bottom and then drive onto the gradient when you know you can make it across the whole way without needing to stop.

Failing to do this could mean your car struggles to get going again uphill.

Don’t try and speed uphill either, even when the coast is clear, because this could lead to you losing control of your vehicle.

Stay in a high gear

When conditions are really icy, try to stay in as high a gear as possible as this will help your tyres get on packed ice.

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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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