Weather warning for 'ice rink Monday': How to drive safely in winter conditions

Motorists across the UK have been advised to take care on Monday as snow freezes to make for treacherous driving conditions.

B6277, County Durham/Cumbria Border, UK. 3rd December 2023. UK Weather. Snow, ice and fog is affecting high level routes between Middleton-in-Teesdale, County Durham and Alston in and Cumbria today.  Roads are mainly clear however some sections are icy. Credit: David Forster/Alamy Live News
A car on a snow-covered road on the county border between Durham and Cumbria. (Alamy)

Parts of the UK are facing "ice rink Monday" as snow froze overnight, the RAC has warned.

The Met Office has issued a yellow weather warning for ice for much of the north of England until midday on Monday, as well as a yellow warning for snow and ice across the east of Scotland.

A separate yellow warning for rain is in place all day in Wales and the south of England.

There have been days of freezing temperatures across the UK as a number of areas have been covered in snow.

The Met Office said Saturday night saw the coldest temperatures since last winter, with -12.5C recorded in Altnaharra in the Highland region of northern Scotland.

People walk through the snow beside the beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland, as temperatures are tipped to plunge to as low as minus 11C in parts of the UK over the weekend. Picture date: Sunday December 3, 2023. (Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images)
People walk through the snow beside the beach huts at Blyth in Northumberland. (PA)

On Saturday evening, about 7,000 properties in Cumbria lost electricity after power cuts followed heavy snow, with many roads unusable.

Read more: What the weather will be like near you this week

RAC Breakdown spokesperson Simon Williams said northern parts of the UK could be facing an “ice rink Monday as snow refreezes overnight”.

He said: “We’re expecting some very treacherous icy conditions in northern parts, so those who have to drive should exercise great caution.

Watch: Thousands without electricity in Cumbria as people rescued from snowbound cars

"If it’s possible to delay or even abandon journeys that may well be the best option.

“Those who decide to drive should leave extra space behind the vehicle in front, reduce their speeds to give plenty of time to stop.

“Before setting out, it’s important to allow more time to de-ice and de-mist vehicles thoroughly.”

Yahoo News UK examines what winter driving tips motorists should follow this week.

What are the top winter driving tips?

The most important tip for driving in snow or ice, according to the AA, is very simple: take it slow.

The AA said stopping distances can be as much as 10 times longer when the road is icy.

It said the key to winter driving was "gentle manoeuvres and slow speeds".

Recommended reading

The RAC also said drivers should "keep your speed well down" when driving on ice, while looking out for hazards ahead.

It advised accelerating, braking, steering and changing gear as smoothly as possible.

It said a higher gear may be more appropriate "to aid grip on packed ice".

The Abell family walk through the Bradgate Christmas Tree Farm near Newtown Linford after snowfall in Leicestershire, central England, on December 3, 2023. (Photo by Darren Staples / AFP) (Photo by DARREN STAPLES/AFP via Getty Images)
A family walks through the Bradgate Christmas Tree Farm near Newtown Linford in Leicestershire. (AFP via Getty Images)

How do I prepare my car for winter driving?

Before setting off, allow extra time for your journey and check you have enough fuel, the AA says.

The RAC advises bringing a charged mobile phone and a charging cable, a bottle of water, some snacks and a warm blanket, in case your car does get stuck.

Wear comfortable and dry shoes for driving so your feet don't slip on the pedals.

Give yourself at least 10 minutes to de-ice your car, and make sure all windows and mirrors are clear before setting off.

Teesdale, County Durham, UK. 3rd December 2023. UK Weather. With a yellow weather warning in force further snow as well as ice and fog is affecting Teesdale, County Durham this afternoon. County Durham, North East England this morning. Credit: David Forster/Alamy Live News
A snowy scene in Teesdale, County Durham. (Alamy)

How do I de-ice my car?

The AA says the first thing to do is check your wipers aren't on before switching on the car, as they could be frozen to the glass and might be damaged if they try to start wiping.

Next, start the engine and turn on the warm air blower to the windscreen and the rear window demister. Turning on the air conditioning will help remove moisture from the air and stop the car steaming up.

While the engine is running and the warm air is blowing on the windscreen, use this time to clear the ice or snow off the outside of the car, the AA says, using a scraper – and de-icer if necessary.

When the windows are all clear, it is safe to drive off.

The AA says motorists should not use hot or even lukewarm water on ice on their car as it risks damaging the windscreen.

Glass expands quickly when hot or even warm water touches it, but it will contract quickly too as it cools down in the cold air. This flexing can make the glass crack.

RETRANMITTING AMENDING LOCATION The snow-covered peak of Beinn Eighe and the mountains of Torridon are reflected in Loch Glascarnoch near Ullapool, Wester Ross. Picture date: Sunday December 3, 2023. (Photo by Jane Barlow/PA Images via Getty Images)
The snow-covered peak of Beinn Eighe and the mountains of Torridon are reflected in Loch Glascarnoch near Ullapool, Wester Ross, Scotland. (PA)

What should I do if skidding on ice?

The RAC says that if drivers do encounter a skid, they should steer gently into it.

So if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, they should steer to the right.

Drivers should not take their hands off the steering wheel or brake hard.

Motorists should also be wary of black ice, which sometimes appears as a glossy sheen on the road, but is usually very difficult to see.

If you hit a patch of black ice, keep the steering wheel straight and maintain your speed, the RAC says, and do not hit the brakes.

Drivers can go down the gears to slow down if necessary but avoiding any sudden movements that could destabilise the car.

Watch: Cold weather continues to grip northern England