Driving in the snow

Advice for using your car in the snow and ice

The most sensible piece of advice we can offer about driving in the snow is simply this: don't. The sensible driver should never underestimate the threat posed by an icy or frosty road, and Charles Hurst advises motorists only to make journeys which are absolutely essential during the peak of winter. If you find the roads completely unavoidable, it's important that you consider the following:

1. Make sure that your vehicle is maintained to the highest standard. Perform regular checks on your engine, battery, and tyres. Breakdowns are not only more common, but much more dangerous in cold temperatures. If possible, ensure that your tyres are fitted with snow chains or snow socks, or that you have silica winter tyres fitted, and that these are always kept properly inflated.

2. Prepare for the worst. Ensure that you have a stock of blankets, warm clothes, and hard-wearing boots inside the car in case you become stranded. Make sure you never travel without a fully-charged mobile phone, a flashlight, and perhaps even a shovel. For longer journeys, or for journeys in more remote regions, you may wish to consider keeping some food and water with you too.

3. Drive sensibly. Too fast and you risk skidding, too slow and you risk losing momentum. Gain a feel for the vehicle early on, and learn how your tyres are responding to the road surface. Always start gently, pulling away in the highest gear possible, avoid harsh braking on the roads, and maintain a very liberal stopping distance from the vehicle in front.

4. Should you find yourself stranded, do not panic! Wrap up warm, and stay near your vehicle so that you do not become lost. Wherever possible, remain inside where it is warmer. Run your engine in cycles to ensure that your interior is kept warm – though be careful not to be too generous, as your engine fumes may start seeping into the cockpit.