Tips for driving in poor weather

The best advice in extreme weather conditions, is to avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. If you have to travel you should prepare your vehicles and drive with caution.

Over 14,000 accidents and over 20,000 casualties are caused by wet weather conditions each year. Over 2,500 accidents result from poor vision from rain, sleet, snow or fog.

Preparation

  • Start early to allow time to clear and defrost car windows.
  • Check the tyres, battery, brakes, fuel, oil, lights, heater, cooling system and wipers.
  • Keep emergency equipment (blankets, a first-aid kit, jump leads, torch, ice scraper, gloves, snacks and water) in the vehicle.
  • Clear and keep snow and ice off your mirrors, windows and lights.
  • Make sure all occupants of the vehicle wear safety belts.
  • Drive with your headlights on.

The dangers

  • In adverse conditions it is harder to see and takes longer to stop.
  • Traffic may also be slow-moving meaning journeys take longer than expected so drivers are more prone to tiredness.

Basic principles

  • Leave early to allow extra time to get to your destination.
  • Slow down – if visibility is poor or the road is wet or icy, it will take you longer to react to hazards and your speed should be reduced accordingly.
  • Travel, steer and brake sooner but more slowly than usual.
  • Maintain a safe gap behind the vehicle in front – stopping distances are double in wet and ten times greater in snow and ice.
  • Look out for vulnerable road users – be aware that people on foot, bicycles, motorbikes and horses are harder to spot in adverse weather and in the dark.
  • Look out for signs warning of adverse conditions.
  • Stay in control – avoid harsh braking and acceleration and carry out manoeuvres slowly and with extra care.
  • Use low gears to keep traction and brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Stay on well-travelled and maintained roads.

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