Temperatures are dropping across the country as the Beast from the East is set to bring sub-zero temperatures and snow.
Winter is the time of year when most preparation is required to stay safe on the roads and avoid breakdowns.
Radiators can freeze, black ice on the roads can cause skidding and the low sun in the sky can dazzle drivers.
With that in mind, we wanted to share some tips with you on driving safely in the cold snap.
Here’s everything you need to know about preparing for bad weather and driving in the snow, including some handy hints from The AA’s comprehensive guide to winter driving.
Driving in snow and ice
Wear comfortable, dry shoes for driving. Cumbersome, snow-covered boots will slip on the pedals.
Pull away in second gear, easing your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.
Up hill – avoid having to stop part way up by waiting until it is clear of other cars or by leaving plenty of room to the car in front. Keep a constant speed, choosing the most suitable gear well in advance to avoid having to change down on the hill.
Down hill – reduce your speed before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid using the brakes. Leave as much room as possible between you and the car in front.
If you have to use brakes then apply them gently.
Top tip: If you get stuck, straighten the steering and clear the snow from the wheels.
Put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give the tyres some grip.
Once on the move again, try not to stop until you reach firmer ground.
Lower your speed and mind the gap
Once on the road, reduce your speed and increase the distance between you and the car in front.
A quarter of motorists said they don’t always lower their average speed on icy roads and another 23% do not increase the distance between them and the vehicle in front.
Keeping a distance and reducing speed is important as icy conditions impair breaking performance and cause wheels to slip.
Remember, it’s the ice you can’t see that will catch you out. Black ice is clear snow or rainwater that freezes on darker road surfaces, rendering it invisible. And potentially deadly.
It’s a ‘trap’ many drivers fall victim to because of this much overlooked fact: the ground freezes much earlier than the air.
Indeed, road surfaces can become frozen while the air is over 4°c above freezing. This also means that it’s possible for black ice to form even when there’s no rain or snow – rather like dew that forms on the ground overnight.
So if your vehicle has an outside air temperature monitor – don’t trust it as a guide to road conditions.
What to do if you skid on the road
If there is ice on the road, you need to drive extremely carefully. Black ice can’t easily be seen, so drive gently and allow plenty of space between you and the car in front. Remember that stopping distances can be longer in ice and snow.
If you do skid, steer in the direction of the skid, and try not to brake or accelerate until you are back in control.
Dropping gears instead of braking can help prevent skidding.