Drive Dynamics: Winter Driving Tips

Road in snowDriving in Snow & Ice

• Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times those in the dry – leave plenty of space!

• If your car skids, don’t brake – press the clutch and steer into the skid – braking will almost always make the skid worse.

• Reduce the risk of skidding by driving slowly and smoothly – too much speed or gas is usually the cause of a skid.

• Select second gear to move away to prevent wheel spin. Always use the ‘Winter’ mode in an automatic if fitted.

• Don’t abandon your vehicle as this could hinder snow ploughs, gritters and the emergency services.

• If your tyres are making hardly no noise you could be driving on ‘black ice’ – no sudden steering or braking.

• Look for clues that it has become frosty, such as frost forming on footpaths and parked cars.

• Look out for pedestrians that may be using the road as footpaths have not been cleared.

Driving in Heavy Rain

• Headlights must be used when visibility is below 100 metres, fog lights may also be used when visibility is seriously reduced – remember to switch them off again when visibility improves.

• Stopping distances will be increased, remember to leave a 4 second gap between you vehicle and the one in front.

• If steering becomes unresponsive, ease off the gas gently to slow down – you may be aquaplaning.

Driving in Floods & Standing Water

• Only drive through water that you know the depth of – water can be deeper than it looks or be very fast moving. Your vehicle may be swept away, it only takes about 2 feet of water to make your vehicle float!

• When driving through deep puddles or standing water speed should be kept to a minimum, a slow steady speed in 1st gear is best. If water is ingested by the engine it will destroy it.

• Care should be taken when pedestrians or cyclists are about take care not to soak them – if you do you could face a hefty fine and possibly between 3 and 9 points on your licence!

• After driving through standing water you should test your brakes as soon as possible.

Do not cancel your driving lessons in bad weather, they are the most important driving lessons you can take. Learning in these conditions could save your life!

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• Driving in the winter months can pose additional challenges to the driver, however following some simple steps can make it safer.

• Extreme weather conditions could include;

–Rain & Hail

–Wet, slushy or icy roads

–Strong winds

–Darker evenings and early morning

–Blinding low level sun

Essential Vehicle Checks

–Fuel (ensure you have sufficient for the journey)

–Fluids (ensure all fluids are at the correct level and top up screen wash & carry spare)

–Lights (ensure that all lights are working & clean – consider carrying spare bulbs)

–Rubber (check tyre condition & pressures also ensure wiper blades are in good condition)

Emergency Kit List

•It is advisable to carry an emergency kit in your vehicle in bad weather. This should include;

–Ice scraper and de-icer

–Torch and spare batteries

–Warm clothing (for all passengers)

–Wellingtons or walking boots

–Flask containing a warm drink


–Shovel in snowy conditions

Driving in Fog

• Driving in fog is generally regarded as being the most dangerous driving condition.

–It can distort what you can see making judging speed and distance very difficult, a safe following distance must always be kept – you must always be able to stop within the distance that you can see to be clear.

–Lights should always be used when driving in fog, fog lights should be used when visibility is below 100 metres, they must always be switched off when visibility improves. Remember rear fog lights are the same intensity as your brake lights so drivers could miss you braking if you have your fog lights switched on unnecessarily.

Simon CalvertDrive Dynamics: Winter Driving Tips