As the winter months draw in, UK roads become more treacherous and can become challenging to navigate.

Even if the snow doesn’t show, it’s important to know what precautions you should take before starting a journey into the coldest part of the year.

Check that your car is ready to go


Before setting off, it’s vital to ensure that everything is working and topped up, to avoid getting caught short in the cold. Make sure you have enough fuel, check that your windscreen washer fluid is topped up and that all the jets are working so that you can use the system to its full effect. To stop your washer jets from freezing in the ice and snow, fill your windscreen washer reservoir with concentrated washer fluid.

It is also important to make sure you are using winter an ‘all-seasons’ washer fluid, as both will be formulated to work properly and not freeze in the cold.

Use your lights correctly

When driving in the snow, properly utilising your lights is crucial. A dipped beam is a must in heavy snowfall, with additional fog lights turned on if the snow is still falling. This is not only for your own benefit; it will help other brave winter wanderers see you too.

Pack everything you need

You shouldn’t drive in snow unless you absolutely have to. But if you do, stock up your car with extra supplies to keep you going in the event of a breakdown, an accident or in case you’re unfortunate enough to get stuck somewhere for long periods of time. The most important item to have in your boot is warm clothing. Rarely will you be more thankful for a woolly hat, gloves and a jacket than if you’re standing by the side of the road in sub-zero conditions.

In addition, a first aid kit, jump cables, phone charger, torch and high visibility clothing are all great to have in the event of an unforeseen stoppage. Alongside these items, if possible bring a reflective warning triangle to make sure other motorists can spot you and your car from a distance.

Keep a sample of carpet on hand


Perhaps this one is less obvious, but a piece of old carpet can be extremely useful if it is snowing. Place the carpet under the tyres when the car is stuck, and it can give you enough traction to get free. If there isn’t any carpet on hand, your car’s mats could work just as well.

Remove snow and ice

Before you set off, clear your vehicle of as much snow and ice as possible, particularly on windows and mirrors. This will improve visibility for you, and eradicate the risk of any falling off your car and hitting another driver or cyclist. 

Pace yourself

No matter how much of a hurry you are in during winter months, you should always drive a little more carefully, even if it is not snowing. Black ice is a particular threat, however, even the mix of wet roads and cold temperatures will mean there’s less grip on the road than normal.

Remember to allow extra time for journeys! Relieve yourself of the timing pressures that would normally cause you to hurry on the road. When the cold weather sets in, you can truly never be too careful.

Ted Welford


December 13, 2018