Safe winter driving

Advice about driving in the winter to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Driving in winter conditions requires more care and preparation than most other circumstances, to ensure your safety and the safety of others.

Winter safety checklist

Prior to winter driving, you should load the following into your car boot and keep it there.

  • Warm hi-visibility clothing and a blanket;
  • De-icer and a scraper;
  • Fully-charged mobile phone with plenty of credit;
  • A torch with spare batteries;
  • A spade or shovel;
  • Some old carpet or matting;
  • Chocolate or energy bars;
  • Gloves, socks and wellington boots; and
  • A flask with a hot drink.

You should also get your car serviced and consider joining a breakdown service before winter closes in.

Before driving

  • Plan to use main roads and check the gritting routes, even if it puts a few miles onto your journey, but remember that they may still be icy;
  • Check the live weather cameras for an idea of the conditions;
  • Clear all windows of mist, frost or ice; and
  • Check that all lights work.

While driving

  • Increase your braking distance. It takes much longer to stop on slippery roads;
  • Avoid sudden or harsh braking, steering and accelerating to prevent skidding; and
  • Use dipped headlights, not sidelights, in poor visibility.

Further information

Winter tyres can help you when driving in cold weather. They have three times the grip on snow of normal "summer" tyres and work better in the wet when temperatures drop below seven degrees. Normal tyres become less flexible at low temperatures. Conversely, winter tyres do not perform well at high temperatures and need to be exchanged for normal tyres when temperatures rise. Prices of winter tyres vary, but generally the more you pay the better the tyre performs. The other consideration is where to store the set of tyres that is not in use.

Our gritters will treat priority routes around the county throughout the winter, but be advised that even when roads are dry and gritters are not out there is a risk of isolated patches of ice where water has leaked onto the road. You should also beware of cold spots under trees, near rivers and on bridge decks where temperatures can be lower than the surrounding area.

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