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How to Drive Safely in the Snow

With the sudden cold snap creating treacherous driving conditions across the UK, motorists everywhere must take special care to ensure they drive safely in the snow.

The journey begins before you even leave home - hazardous weather warnings should be heeded and drivers should ensure they have the relevant safety equipment in the car, in the event they become stranded by snow.

Driving in Snow

© Jevanto Productions / Adobe Stock


Current weather

Britain is in the throes of the coldest weather conditions this winter. Severe weather warnings are in place across the nation and the Met Office has warned of "significant snowfall" that will further disrupt our transport system.

Snow has already caused chaos this week across much of Scotland, northern England and Wales. Two of the busiest airports in the UK (Manchester and Liverpool) were temporarily closed due to the weather.

As snow fell during Wednesday morning's rush hour, both airports had to halt flights as snow blocked the runways. Multiple accidents occurred on the motorway network, particularly around the busy Greater Manchester area, while in the Yorkshire Dales, vehicles crashed in a snow-covered canyon following heavy snowfall overnight on Tuesday.

Temperatures are forecast to plunge to below freezing in northern Scotland and in parts of England, and motoring organisations are warning people to travel only if absolutely necessary and to take extra steps to protect themselves on hazardous roads.


Preparing for a journey

Before setting off, you should complete a checklist of "things to do", so you're properly prepared for your journey.

First, check weather warnings to find out if there are any hazards on your route. If you discover your route is blocked, or there are delays caused by the freezing weather or an accident, consider postponing your journey. Either delay your start time, or if the road conditions are very dangerous, wait until the next day.

If there's another, safer route you can take, work it out in advance to avoid the worst-affected motorways and side roads. Only travel if it's absolutely vital when the temperature drops to below freezing.


Checking car safety

Always make sure your vehicle is in tip-top condition before you set off. Have it inspected by a professional mechanic to ensure your tyres are at the correct pressure and there are no obvious faults. Make sure you have sufficient oil and water and at least half a tank of petrol.

Before setting off, if your car has been parked outdoors, ensure your exhaust pipe isn’t blocked with snow or ice. When your engine is started, this could cause deadly carbon monoxide to leak into your vehicle, with potentially lethal effects.

Pack your mobile phone and make sure it's fully charged. Join a breakdown service and put their number into your phone's directory. Also pack blankets, a hat, gloves, food, a flask containing a hot drink, water and any medication you may need, in case you break down.


Driving in snow

Avoid using your brakes sharply, and accelerate and slow down smoothly and slowly. Put your foot on the accelerator gently, or you'll be in danger of skidding. Leave yourself more time to slow down, as everything takes longer, including going round a corner or a roundabout.

If you can slow down enough to keep rolling at traffic lights and roundabouts, avoid stopping altogether when possible, as it takes more inertia to set off from a stationary position and therefore there's more chance of skidding.

Avoid routes where there are steep hills if you can - it can be almost impossible to get moving again on an icy slope, if you've had to stop on the way up.

Don't use cruise control when driving on snow and ice and don't make any sharp movements of the steering wheel. An obvious, but important step is to wear your seatbelt at all times in case of an accident.

Above all, keep calm when you're driving. Even if other motorists are speeding, drive at a comfortable and safe speed. If you're on the motorway, keep to the slow lane. It's better to arrive late at your destination than to never to arrive at all.


What if you break down?

If you get stuck in snow, don't leave your vehicle. It will keep you sheltered and make it easier for the breakdown van to find you. Get wrapped up in the warm blankets you've packed and have a hot drink and something to eat to keep your body temperature up.

Never walk off in a snowstorm to look for help - it's easy to get lost in the snow, where you could collapse from hypothermia with fatal consequences.

If you've called the breakdown service and you're waiting for them to find you, tie a brightly-coloured cloth to the car's aerial, or place a reflective warning triangle on the road behind your vehicle. Leave your interior light on, as long as you don't have a flat battery. The breakdown driver will see you more easily, particularly if you're on an unlit road.

Use whatever you can to provide further insulation for your body, even wrapping yourself in the car's floor mats or newspapers if you start to feel colder.

This is why it's so important to have plenty of petrol - once you've checked your exhaust isn't blocked with snow, you can keep the engine and heater running, as long as you have enough fuel.

Stay safe when driving in the snow by following these simple tips. Becoming a careful and efficient driver when the temperature drops can save lives.

Coruba provides a range of high-quality vehicle rubber matting to help keep the interior of your vehicle clean, particularly in adverse weather conditions. It's available in all shapes and sizes, for cars, vans and larger lorries.

Available in bespoke sizes that can be customised to the client's precise specifications, we also manufacture high-quality snow plough scraper blades in rubber and Polyurethane options.

Please contact us for more details of our products.

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