Driving in Snow
Do you REALLY need to go out in a vehicle?
If so, plan your journey. Consult your local weather forecast, break-down organisations, Highways Agency, and Police media for advice.
Keep your fuel tank full. There are arguments for and against doing this normally. The main argument against is that you are carrying un-necessary weight, which takes extra fuel consumption to move. I would agree with this, depending on the mileage you normally travel per day. In bad conditions I feel that your priority should be safety, safety, and safety.
Try not to travel unless you absolutely need to. If you do travel, and get stuck, you do not want to be fretting about running out of fuel. You should be able to keep the car warm at all times (someone suggested 21 degrees C), You need to have the engine running to power the phone charger, radio, lights, heater, windscreen clearing systems, and the in-car kettle
suggested above. Make sure that none of exhaust fumes can enter the passenger
If you are stuck in the bad weather, surely the fuel tankers will be struggling to travel as well.
Do not stop at every petrol station and queue for fuel unless you need it. It is a waste of time and fuel to queue, and you may not be able to get back out of the station if it is snowing.
Also, don’t use your windscreen wipers until the ice or snow has melted. The wiper blades may have frozen to the glass, and if you use the wipers too early, you may simply rip the rubber blade of their holders. Use a window scraper, a bottle of de-icer and some patience. I have found that using spray cans of de-icer on wind-screens seem to refreeze faster than when using a “trigger-squeeze” bottle. And clear all the ice off the screen, not just a couple of holes. You need to see all around you, clearing just a narrow letter-box view will not allow you to see pedestrians, traffic lights, into junctions (or the police officer who is trying to stop you for driving dangerously).
Not only will this help you to see and be seen, but it will keep you legal.
Whilst you are waiting for the car to thaw out, do not leave the vehicle un-attended. Someone may drive off in it if you are not there. Spend the time scraping any snow or dirt off the windows, lights, and number plates. Check that the lights are working, and that you have topped up the screen-wash and so on. Listen to the local traffic reports whilst you are waiting, to help you decide which route to use.
Drive gently, even more gently than you normally do. Sudden changes to speed or direction are the two main causes of skidding. If you notice wheel-spin or sliding, ease off the brake or accelerator, and then re-apply pressure again, but more smoothly than before.
Don’t rev the engine too much, but instead, change gear earlier then you would normally do, and try to drive in as high a gear as you can.
Try moving off in second gear, not the normal first gear. It gives the wheels much less power to the wheels than normal, so they are much less likely to spin, rather than grip. This is how you may be able to drive off up a slope without spinning.
Having got moving, you then have to brake or turn the wheels. Do this as gently and smoothly as you can. Remember, sudden changes to speed or direction are the two main causes of skidding. Try to brake without the ABS kicking in, but if it does start working, keep your foot on the brake pedal with a constant pressure, and let the system do its job. If you don’t have ABS, and you feel a loss of grip, reduce the pressure on that pedal, and then re-apply more gently this time.
Rather than preparing to react to a loss of car control, try not to lose control in the first place. Remember, soft and gentle on all the controls is going to be much safer than harsh changes. Driving in bad conditions is all about, gentle, patient movements, always being prepared to slow down or stop. Be considerate to other road users, they are having the same problems as you, and in the same conditions as you.
Have a plan of what to do if you get stuck in snow.
Revving wildly in snow will not do anything to help you. It will probably just dig you in deeper. Straighten your wheels. Try gently moving both forwards and backwards. This may allow you to get enough momentum to keep going to the next bit of firm ground. If that doesn’t work, now is the time to get the shovel out to clear the road, as well as the wheel arches. Maybe there is a kind person to help you by pushing the car whilst you drive gently. Once you get moving, try not to stop until you reach a safe place where there is less likelihood of getting stuck again.
Have you got a tow-rope that you can attach to another vehicle who has got more grip than you?
It may also be the time to decide to get winter tyres or “snow sox” as soon as you can, as both these give you much more grip in snow and ice, but they may also have dis-advantages.
Before parking, think about how you can drive off again. Try to park on the flat or down-hill, not up-hill. Make sure to reverse into a bay. This way you will be facing forward when moving off, the steering wheels will reach the driving area first, giving you more steering grip earlier. Most cars are front wheel drive, and they are the wheels that are nearest the roadway, giving you more grip earlier.
Here is a link to advice from Police Scotland:
and from North Wales police: https://www.north-wales.police.uk/advice-and-support/safer-roads/winter-driving-advice