Top tips for safe winter driving

With freezing temperatures set to continue for at least a few more days, roads are more dangerous than ever. Chief examiner Peter Rodger from the Institute of Advanced Motoring (IAM) offers his top tips for safe winter driving.

1. Make the call

When there’s snow or ice on the ground, avoid travelling unless completely necessary. Can you work remotely, or change your schedule?

2. Be nice, de-ice

Make sure you have de-icer and a scraper in the car. Before setting off, make sure you clean any ice or condensation from all the windows to optimise visibility.

3. Major over minor

If you can, avoid using shortcuts on minor roads – especially country lanes and housing estates. Main roads are more likely to be cleared and gritted.

4. Start in a second

When you set off, do so in second gear. Releasing the clutch, accelerate gently and avoid high revs – this will prevent wheel spin.

5. Make brake space

Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front. Don’t rely on your brakes to stop – on ice they may not do that for you.

6. Steer into skids

If your car loses grip, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels where you want to go. If you find yourself in a skid, steer into it.7. End fast bends

Slow down before you get to a bend, so that by the time you turn the steering wheel you have already lost enough speed.

8. Slow down to go

On a downhill slope, get your speed low before you start the descent – it is much easier to keep your speed low than to try and slow down once things get slippery.

9. Drive on eggshells

Even after the frost has gone, ice can remain in areas that are shaded by trees and buildings. Drive as if you’re walking on eggshells.

10. Step away

If you do lose control, the next driver could do the same thing in the same place. If you must leave your vehicle for assistance, find a safe place to stand away from the traffic flow.

More on this topic

‘Drive it Home’ is a national rural road safety campaign, launched by the NFYFC. Find out more on our road safety page.

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