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Cold weather can create hazards on the roads. Here is some advice to keep you safe on our roads during the winter months.

How to drive safely in snow and ice

Motorists need to pay due care and attention on the roads in the winter and be able to adapt to changing conditions. Even the most experienced drivers can find themselves getting into difficulties when the roads are icy. Ask yourself whether your journey is really necessary.

Before you set off on your journey

  • Make sure your vehicle is in winter roadworthy condition.  
  • Check that your tyres meet the legal requirements. Tyres that do not have the legal tread will seriously affect the traction and steering of your vehicle.  
  • Clear your windscreen properly of ice and snow.
  • Check your brakes and ensure your lights are working properly.
  • Check your oil and washer fluid levels.
  • Carry water and de-icer in the car with you.
  • If you are going on a longer journey, make sure you bring food, hot drinks, warm blankets and a fully charged mobile phone.

Driving your vehicle in wintry weather

  • Slow down and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels lock, ease off the brakes.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists and always clear all ice and snow off the car windows before setting out.
  • Drive slowly on snow in the highest gear possible.
  • Never overtake snowploughs or gritting lorries. The drivers have limited visibility, and you are likely to find that the road in front of them is worse that the road behind.
  • Do not assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
  • Carry wellingtons or other strong boots and weatherproof clothing in case your have to get out and walk, or push a car.

If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow

  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the accelerator to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels – or even use your foot mats – to help get traction.
  • If you must leave your car, arrange to have it recovered as soon as possible. If you think it is in a place that may pose a danger to other road users, call the police to let them know.

Think before throwing snowballs

Snowy weather can be fun for all but throwing snowballs at passing cars is extremely dangerous. The vehicle could be damaged and there is a danger that the driver could be injured. There may also be a risk that the driver could lose control of the vehicle with terrible consequences.

At times we have received reports that gritting and salt lorries have been disrupted by people throwing snowballs at the vehicles and that emergency vehicles have been targeted similarly. This is extremely dangerous and results in the entire community suffering and losing out on vital services. It wouldn’t be so funny if the ambulance was on the way to one of your relatives.

Driving on frozen rivers, ponds and lakes

We cannot stress strongly enough the dangers of taking scooters and other vehicles on to frozen rivers, ponds and lakes. While the ice may seem sturdy and able to support weight it can become very thin very quickly. The surface can easily crack, give way and individuals can fall through. The consequences could be fatal.

If you see someone, or a pet, fall through the ice and get into difficulty - never try to rescue them yourself. Instead phone 999 immediately.

Cold weather and older adults

The winter can be especially tough for vulnerable or isolated members of the community. If you have any concerns about anyone in your community please contact us and we will check on their safety and wellbeing. We work with all the communities we serve to keep everyone safe.