The IAM (Institute of Advanced Motorists) is issuing advice on driving in snow and ice.
IAM Chief Examiner Peter Rodger said: “Can you work remotely, or change your schedule when conditions are bad? Not everyone can, but if it is possible, it makes sense. Don’t ignore police warnings or advice to avoid specific routes in bad weather.”
If staying inside in the warm is not an option, the IAM offers the following advice on driving safely through snow:
- Ensure your windows are completely clean and clear, and that you have all-round visibility before you set off. Also take the time to clear snow off the roof of your car – it can be tempting to skimp on clearing snow before you start, but it can make a real difference to both you and others
- When driving in snow, get your speed right – not too fast that you risk losing control, but not so slow that you risk losing momentum when it is needed
- From stationary, start gently and avoid high revs. Stay in a higher gear to avoid skidding and maximise control – start off in second if it is really slippery, in a manual car. If you use an automatic check what the manual says about these conditions, and use the advice
- If the car starts to side sideways in a skid, the main thing to remember is to take your foot off the pedals and steer. Only use the brake if you cannot steer out of trouble.
- At least double or even treble your normal stopping distance from the vehicle in front so you are not relying on your brakes to be able to stop; it simply may not happen!
- It’s better to think ahead as you drive to keep moving, even if it is at walking pace – slow down really early if it means you can keep moving and not have to stop and start again.
- Plan your journey around busier roads as they are more likely to have been treated. Avoid using short cuts on minor roads – they are less likely to be cleared or treated with salt, especially country lanes and housing estates.
- Bends are a particular problem in icy conditions – slow down before you get to the bend, so that by the time you turn the steering wheel you have already lost enough speed.
- On a downhill slope get your speed low before you start the descent, and do not let it build up – it is much easier to keep it low than to try and slow down once things get slippery.
And if the worst does happen:
- Keep track of where you are. If you do have to call for assistance, you need to be able to tell the breakdown or emergency services your location.
- If you must leave your vehicle to telephone for assistance, find a safe place to stand away from any traffic flow. If you have just lost control, the next driver could well do the same in the same place.
- If you break down or have to pull over on a motorway or dual carriageway, it is always better to leave your vehicle and stand a short distance behind and to the safe side of it. Don’t stand in front of it if at all possible. Balancing the risks of a collision and hypothermia is something that depends entirely on your situation at the time.