Snow and ice make the road slippery and can affect your ability to see what’s ahead. Adjust your driving and speed to keep control of your car in these conditions.
Where should you practise this?
Focus on getting experience driving in the ice or snow with your coach before you try it by yourself.
Before the drive
- Look at the conditions. If they’re particularly bad, ask yourself: Do I really need to go out?
- Check the forecast and road conditions. Check for road closures and plan to take the safest route.
- Allow extra time so you can drive at a safe speed to suit the conditions.
- If you can, plan to drive in the middle of the day, or at least in daylight hours. You can see better and ice and snow are less likely to be on the road.
- Make sure your car is roadworthy and you have plenty of fuel.
- If snow chains are recommended, make sure you have and know how to fit them.
Check your visibility
- Clear your windscreen by starting the car and turning on the front and rear de-misters to full.
- If you want to use water to defrost the windscreen, always use cold water. If you use hot water on a frozen windscreen, the extreme change in temperature can cause your windscreen to crack.
- For best visibility in snow, dip your headlights.
- Look out for warning signs and ice markers with blue flashing lights that tell you there could be ice ahead.
While you’re driving
- Drive slower than you would normally so you can keep control.
- Drive gently and smoothly. That includes accelerating, braking and steering. Sudden changes will make you more likely to skid.
- Leave plenty of space between your car and the vehicle in front, at least 4 seconds.
- Brake gently and early, so you have plenty of time to stop.
- Look out for bridges and shaded patches of road. These are more likely to be icy.
- Drive slower if grit has been laid on the road over ice or snow. It might be loose and make it harder to keep control.
- If you have snow chains fitted, keep your speed down below 50km/h. Chains are not designed to be driven on at high speeds.
If you’re driving a manual car
- Use a higher gear than you normally would as you speed up, to reduce the risk of losing grip.
- Use a lower gear than you normally would when going around corners or downhill, to help keep your speed down.
- If you’re going uphill start in a low gear and then use higher gears to keep a steady and even pace.
If your car starts to slide
- Take your foot off the accelerator.
- Look in the direction you want the front wheels to go, as you’ll naturally steer the front of the car there.
- Steer into the skid. This means steer in the same direction as the back end of the car is sliding.
- Don’t use your brakes as this will make the slide worse. Once you’ve regained control you can brake steadily if you have an anti-lock braking system (ABS), or gently pump the brakes if you don’t.