Winter driving tips for icy roads and in the snow; driving safely in all weathers including wet roads, road safety tips for summer driving.
Winter safety checklists
Before you travel, you should:
- think about whether your journey is necessary;
- check the latest weather forecast;
- 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;
- allow extra time;
- ensure you have glasses to the correct prescription;
- tell someone your plans; and
- check whether you need breakdown or recovery insurance.
To prepare your car for winter journeys, it is a good idea to check:
- your tyre pressure and tread depth, and your spare tyre;
- your vehicle's lights are working and clean;
- your wipers, and that you have screenwash containing anti-freeze;
- that your car battery is in good condition and fully charged;
- your windows and mirrors are clear of ice and condensation; and
- that your car's windscreen is covered with a blanket overnight.
We recommend you carry these in your car in winter:
- 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.
During your journey:
- travel slowly and at a safe distance from the vehicle in front. It takes much longer to stop on slippery roads;
- use dipped headlights if visibility is poor;
- avoid sudden or harsh braking, steering and accelerating to prevent skidding;
- prefer main roads that have been gritted rather than untreated minor roads;
- be aware of dawn frost and fresh snow on gritted surfaces;
- use all controls (brake, accelerator, gears, clutch) very gently; and
- beware of any 'wet looking' patches, or cold spots under trees, near rivers and on bridge decks where temperatures can be lower than the surrounding area.
Our gritters will treat priority gritting routes around the county throughout the winter, but even when roads are dry and gritters are not out, there is a risk of isolated patches of ice.
More advice about winter driving and driving in snow can be found at Safe Driving For Life.
Winter tyres are recommended for use in the UK between October and March, when temperatures can often be below 7 degrees celsius. They are designed for low temperatures and for winter road surface conditions. Driving with winter tyres can reduce your stopping distance on ice or snow by up to 10 metres.
The UK charity Tyresafe has full information and guidance about using winter tyres and checking your tyre tread.
Driving in rain or on wet or flooded roads
In North Yorkshire we have a lot of rain throughout every season of the year. Wet road surfaces are a big hazard in wet weather.
When driving in heavy rain:
- turn your headlights on;
- keep a safe distance behind other cars - stopping distances can be double compared to dry weather;
- make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition.
Aquaplaning happens when the water on the road forms a cushion in between the road surface and your tyres. This can cause your car to skid or glide and you can lose control. It's a good idea to:
- keep low speeds when there are wet roads; and
- avoid braking hard.
When driving in floods and standing water:
- avoid standing water where possible;
- don't drive into flood water that’s moving or more than 10cm (4 inches) deep;
- drive slowly and steadily so you don’t make a bow wave;
- test your brakes as soon as you can afterwards;
- fast-moving water is very powerful, take care or your car could be swept away.
More tips and advice on driving in the rain can be found at Safe Driving for Life.
Driving in summer or hot weather
In hot weather, it's useful to think about adapting your driving. We suggest:
- check tyre pressure more regularly - high temperatures can increase the risk of a blow-out
- keep a pair of sunglasses in the car;
- keep your windscreen clean to avoid dazzle and glare;
- if you have hayfever, make sure you don't medication that can cause drowsiness before you drive;
- if you're going to sneeze, slow down and drop back. You can lose vision for 100m during a sneeze, if you are driving at 70mph; and
- take regular breaks to avoid tiredness. 20 minutes break every three hours is recommended.
We usually do road repairs such as surface dressing in the summer months. You can find out more about surface dressing here. If you encounter a road that we have treated with loose chippings, think about:
- respecting the temporary speed limit to avoid throwing up chippings that might damage your car or cause injury; and
- avoiding sharp turns or sudden braking.