How to drive in the snow

Darren Cassey, PA Motoring Reporter
·2-min read

Around this time of year the UK is often battered by strong winds and rough weather, but occasionally things get bad even by our standards.

Experts say that another Beast from the East could be on the way, with many parts of Scotland already seeing heavy snow and more on the way for England and Wales.

Although the UK is currently in a national lockdown, there are various reasons why you could find yourself on the road when snow has hit. Here’s how to minimise the risk of an incident.

Take it easy

Winter weather Feb 24th 2020
A car drives through wintry conditions near Leeming Bar in North Yorkshire after overnight snow hit parts of the UK.

Driving in the snow is completely different to any other conditions. You should already slow down when it rains, but in the snow you should slow much further because grip levels are massively reduced.

Not only should you slow your speed, you should also slow your inputs. Accelerate and brake gently, and make sure steering inputs are smooth and relaxed so you don’t cause any slip at the wheels.

Visibility is important

Winter weather Dec 4th 2020
(PA)

With snow and ice covering your car, the first thing you should do before setting off is clear every window. Don’t be tempted to just clear the area directly ahead of you – all round visibility is vital.

When the weather is poor, you should also make sure you’re visible to others. Check your bulbs before every journey – it only takes a minute – and make sure you carry spares just in case. Fog lights are important when it’s foggy, but don’t use them when visibility is quite clear as they can blind other drivers.

Make sure you’re prepared

Winter weather Feb 24th 2020
(PA)

Preparation can be the difference between facing a minor inconvenience or getting stranded. Consider packing a winter driving kit, with helpful items such as a high-visibility jacket, warm clothes, snow grips for your shoes, emergency snack, and a power bank to charge mobile phones.

If the weather’s expected to be really bad, consider a shovel for clearing snow, while a piece of rug can be great for placing under tyres to get some grip and haul you out of a tight spot.

Don’t drive

Winter weather Jan 5th 2021
A car covered in snow in Allenheads in the North Pennines in Northumberland last year. (PA)

Despite all the advice above, the best advice of all is not to drive. Sometimes it’s essential, such as caring for a vulnerable person, but if you can avoid getting behind the wheel at all you should.

If you’re a new driver or inexperienced in poor weather, it could be worth asking a more experienced friend or family member to drive if it’s an essential trip.