Advice and guidance for planning a road trip in adverse winter driving conditions

Prepare your vehicle

Make sure you’re prepared and get ready before winter sets in:

  • Have your vehicle serviced
  • Check your lights and brakes are in good working order
  • Check the condition of your tyres; particularly the tread and pressures
  • Check your anti-freeze levels and have it topped up where necessary
  • Make sure your battery is fully charged and in good condition
  • Make sure your lights are clean and your windscreen and windows are clear
  • Make sure your wipers are in good order and work well
  • Top-up your screen washer levels

Before setting off on a journey

Before you leave on a journey during bad weather conditions:

  • Consider if the journey is really essential
  • Before you venture out, check the weather forecast and make sure you know and understand the weather hazards that you might face on the journey
  • Listen to travel information bulletins and road conditions from the local and national radio networks
  • Make sure you have enough fuel in the tank
  • Let someone at your proposed destination know your estimated time of arrival
  • Don’t venture out in snow and ice without warming up your car to it’s normal running temperature

Take the right equipment with you

For your own safety and comfort consider whether you should take the following with you:

  • Spare fuel
  • A shovel
  • A hazard warning triangle
  • A spare wheel (inflated to the correct pressure and with good tread)
  • A high visibility jacket
  • Jump leads
  • Emergency tyre weld (for ‘low speed’ repair)
  • Wellington boots (or similar)
  • A torch or flashlight
  • A car blanket
  • A fire extinguisher
  • A mobile phone for emergency calls. Don’t use it when you’re driving though
  • A flask with a warm drink
  • Sunglasses for that low-in-the-sky sun

On your journey

When you’ve started your journey:

  • If you get stuck, try not to abandon your vehicle, stay with it until help arrives
  • If you are forced to leave your vehicle wear a high visibility jacket or tabard
  • Use dipped headlights in rain, fog, sleet, snow or where visibility is poor
  • Travel at a sensible speed that will enable you to stop within your field of vision. Reduce your speed compared to ‘normal’ driving conditions.
  • Keep a safe stopping distance behind the vehicle in front
  • Stop for a break every couple of hours and take refreshments
  • Avoid drowsiness, keep your car well ventilated
  • Avoid braking harshly and don’t accelerate hard or steer violently
  • Watch out for other road users and give them plenty of room and consideration

Other sources of help and advice

There are a range of websites that provide helpful information to assist you with your winter driving techniques and winter journeys:

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