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How To Drive Safely On Ice And Snow.

Updated on January 30, 2013

Winter Driving.

Fuelled by poor driving standards, how to drive safely on ice and snow is written in the hope that my experiences as a professional parcel delivery driver working out in all weathers will help those of you who need help when driving in snow and ice.

Winter driving needn't be the nightmare which many people make it out to be. As a parcel driver I first of all have to be sure that my van is in a suitable condition for winter driving.

Below are the minimum checks you must carry out before setting off on a winter journey.

  • Tell people where you are going.
  • Keep in touch with people.
  • Check all fluids, oil, water, brakes, coolant.
  • Make sure all lights are in working order.
  • Clean all windows and lights.
  • Shovel and grit or salt.
  • Warm clothes / blanket / snack food / hot beverages.
  • Mobile phone.
  • Sufficient fuel for journey.
  • Ensure your tyres are up to the weather and have good tread depth.

Winter conditions
Winter conditions

Safety First.

When driving on snow and ice you must remember that the safety of you and other road users is the first priority. Before setting out decide for yourself if the journey is absolutely necessary or can it be delayed until conditions improve. In my case most of my driving is done at work so I have no choice but to make the effort as colleagues and customers will be relying on me.

Before Setting Off.

Driving on snow and ice can be very hazardous and your vehicle should be in a roadworthy condition to tackle winter conditions. After doing all of the minimum checks above you are ready to begin your journey. Assess the situation and check the forecast for where you are headed.

Driving on snow and ice requires great concentration so only drive if you are feeling fit enough to do so. Your driving style must be adapted to the conditions and you must keep this in mind at all times.

Beginning Your Journey.

Because of the conditions your vehicle will perform differently than when driving it in dry conditions. Snow and ice are slippery and you can counteract this by being careful but positive with the use of your controls. By controls I mean brakes, clutch, gears and steering in that order. Smooth use of the controls is what is needed here.

Pulling away - 2nd gear with low revs is required to prevent wheel spin and skidding.

On the move- Drive in the highest gear that you can thinking well ahead should you need to apply the brakes. Brakes should be used to the minimum so the farther ahead you can see the better. When coming to a stop apply even gentle brake pressure so as not to skid.

Be positive- and make progress using the principles above. Drive at a speed which reflects the severity of the conditions. You can still drive at reasonable speeds so long as you are alert and keep scanning the road ahead for hazards should you need to slow or stop. Use the engine braking and gears for slowing as this will alleviate skidding and therefore losing control.

Allow extra time - for your journey and accept the fact that it will take longer than usual.

During The Journey.

It is always a good idea to have your radio tuned to the local radio station to keep abreast of road updates. If conditions worsen, try not abandon your vehicle, but seek shelter in a safe place and park off the road so as not to block the roads preventing emergency vehicles and snow ploughs from getting through.

It is very rare in the UK that conditions remain bad for any length of time, but snow can come down quickly rendering some higher roads impassable.

Because we don't see really bad conditions that often it can mean that drivers don't have experience of driving in snowy and icy conditions and don't adapt their driving to suit them.

I have observed this many times with vehicles losing control on the slightest bit of snow and ice. As with all things, practice makes perfect. The more you do it the more confidence you will get for future bad weather.

Top 10 Tips.

  1. Drive in highest gear possible.
  2. Careful use of controls.
  3. Plan ahead.
  4. Be positive in driving style.
  5. Don't travel if it isn't necessary.
  6. Use gears effectively.
  7. Use engine braking in high gears.
  8. Pull away in 2nd gear.
  9. Don't take risks, particularly at junctions.
  10. Be considerate to other road users.

For 10 more tips by a fellow article writer click the blue link to take you to 10 Tips for driving in winter.

© poshcoffeeco ( Steve Mitchell )

The copyright of the work of poshcoffeeco is protected. Please do not publish any work of Steve Mitchell without first receiving his personal permission. Any attempt to illegally copy his work will be subject to the laws of the land of Great Britain at the time of publishing.

© poshcoffeeco ( Steve Mitchell )


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  • Lady Guinevere profile image

    Debra Allen 3 years ago from West By God

    Excellent advice. If you do not HAVE to go out in the stuff then don't. Driving on ice is different than driving on snow. Another thing people do not think about is that it doesn't matter what or how big your vehicle is or what your tires are like..nothing can drive on ICE....unless you use chains on your tires. Then you have to check with your state or jurisdiction if chains are allowed on your roads.

    Great Hub!

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Thanks ktrapp for reading and commenting. In cold weather your battery will run down quicker than usual, not good if you get stranded in a snow drift.

  • ktrapp profile image

    Kristin Trapp 5 years ago from Illinois

    These are all such smart tips for driving on snow and ice. I especially like your recommendation to tell people where you are going. I think these days when cell phones are the norm, we don't always think to tell people things ahead of time, but in an emergency situation - perhaps caught in a blizzard - cell phones cannot necessarily be relied upon.

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Vinaya Ghimire, great to hear from you again, I hope all is well. Thanks for reading. Yes we are having quite a cold winter here in the UK. The last 11 days have seen daytime highs of just 0 degrees with laying snow. Looking forward to summer, brrrrrr.

  • Vinaya Ghimire profile image

    Vinaya Ghimire 5 years ago from Nepal

    Hi Poshcoffeeco

    I have never drove on ice and snow, we don't get snowfall in our city. Thanks for this interesting lecture

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Jennifer Lynch. Glad I could help. Stay safe during the cold snap. Thanks for commenting.

  • Jennifer Lynch profile image

    Jennifer Lynch 5 years ago from Stowmarket, Suffolk.

    Very good hub and needed. I couldn't remember about the gears but now I have read this, makes sense.

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Thanks always exploring.

    To healthylife2 thanks for the vote up.

    Louise lately, the vans at work use winter Tyres and definitely do grip better. Only drawback is the initial expense.

    Glad you liked it shiningirisheyes.

  • shiningirisheyes profile image

    Shining Irish Eyes 5 years ago from Upstate, New York

    Not only was I born and raised in Upstate New York, the streets and mountain passes make you a quick study as tp the safe way for operating a vehicle in ice, sleet, snow and all other things so common in my neck of the woods.

    Excellent suggestions and important advice as well.

  • Louise Lately profile image

    Louise Lately 5 years ago from London, UK

    very topical and useful - voting up:) what is your opinion on winter tyres?

  • healthylife2 profile image

    Healthy Life 5 years ago from Connecticut, USA

    Thanks for these useful tips. I'm terrified to drive in the snow and live in Connecticut. I always follow the not driving unless necessary rule you mentioned. Voted up!

  • always exploring profile image

    Ruby Jean Fuller 5 years ago from Southern Illinois

    I really could have used this earlier, we had twenty inches of snow. It finally rained and washed it all away. I tend to stay in when there's snow. You have given us some good tips. Thank you..

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Hey Made, the difference between the UK and Finland is that Finland doesn't grind to a halt in bad weather. Thanks for voting and sharing.

  • Made profile image

    Madeleine Salin 5 years ago from Finland

    Great hub! I use my car at work. The winters are long here in Finland so we have no other choise than getting used to driving on ice and snow. Voting and sharing this informative hub.

  • Alecia Murphy profile image

    Alecia Murphy 5 years ago from Wilmington, North Carolina

    These tips are timely! And being careful is definitely paramount while driving. Voted up and shared!

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Thanks SilverGenes, I will bare that in mind. Might as well try it as the Cats in our neighbourhood don't bother with it.......they just s..t and p..s on my lawn and in my porch. I pick the s..t and put it on the Cat owners lawn. What goes around as they say.

  • profile image

    SilverGenes 5 years ago

    Excellent advice here. Non-clumping cat litter makes good 'grit' for traction :)

  • poshcoffeeco profile image

    Steve Mitchell 5 years ago from Cambridgeshire

    Innerspin, thanks for being first to comment. If you get an idiot driving too close, pull in and wave him on.

  • innerspin profile image

    Kim Kennedy 5 years ago from uk

    All good points here. My biggest worry on winter roads is the idiot who drives too close behind. Winds me up a treat!