Top tips for staying safe in icy conditions

If you are driving this winter, be sure to take some precautionary measures for dealing with the ice and snow.

During the winter months, the prospect of driving home for Christmas can often be spoiled by fears over staying safe when on the ice.

It is true that driving during snowy or icy conditions can be a serious challenge and at this time of year it is much easier to get into an accident due to a lack of handling.

Yet the world will not stop moving because of a little ice on the ground and you can keep your vehicle going and stay safe in spite of these treacherous conditions. Of course, it cannot be guaranteed that you will avoid a bump but following this advice will reduce your chances considerably.

Clear your windows

Maintaining your safety begins with maximising your visibility so you need to ensure all your windows are completely free of ice and mist.

Often in winter, your windows will frost over and many drivers have been known to set off with only being able to see out of a small portion of their windscreen - a dangerous alternative to what would otherwise only add an extra five minutes to a journey.

As long as you have a scraper in your car and a can of de-icer then clearing your windows should not take too long. Additionally, turning on your air conditioner and increasing the heat will help to dry up the moisture on your windscreen and back window and help to clear the mist.

Should you be in doubt as to whether you can afford the extra time added to your journey to clear the windows then make sure you leave your house ten minutes earlier to compensate for this.

If you have snow on the roof of your car, try to clear this off too so that it does not fall onto your windows while you are driving. Also, if you are travelling at high speed you could do damage to the car behind you from snow falling off your roof onto their vehicle.

Be careful when starting your vehicle

Trying to start up your vehicle during cold weather can sometimes be problematic and can drain your car battery. It is for this reason that having jump leads in your car can be a big help. Before you reach that stage, however, do all you can to reduce the strain on your battery. Make sure your radio, lights and heater are all switched off before you turn on the ignition to save energy.

It is a common misconception that you need to start up your vehicle well in advance during winter so that the engine has time to warm up, however this is no longer the case in the majority of modern vehicles. The engine need not be started up until you are ready to go and it is much better on your fuel economy if you leave it off until the last moment. However, do switch it on if you need to use the aircon to clear your windows.

During slippery conditions, make sure you move off in second gear to make sure you do not end up skidding.

Avoid back country roads

Stay on the main roads as much as possible as these are most likely to have been gritted, while back country roads may remain covered in ice and snow.

As a result, while on a normal day it is not a wise idea to travel down these roads at 60 miles per hour - as the speed limit often is here - it certainly is not smart to do so in winter. Even if the roads do look to be clear, there is still a chance that you will unexpectedly end up going over black ice.

If you have to use quieter roads during winter, make sure you stay in as high a gear as possible, keep your speed down especially when coming up to a bend in the road and leave at least a four second gap between you and the car in front.


  • On: 17 December 2013
  • By: CarShop

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