Essential guide to driving in winter conditions

With snow and ice across Shropshire, here is an essential guide to driving on the county’s roads in winter conditions.

Snow and Car Tyre

It is essential to take extra care if you are travelling in snow or ice and with temperatures in Shropshire dropping as low as -7c overnight, road conditions will be dangerous for motorists, cyclists and pedestrians.

If the weather is extremely bad, then your journey should only be made if it is essential and with accidents increasing dramatically in winter conditions, this is good advice.

It is important that before making any journey you feel confident to drive in the conditions, snow and ice can make handling your car tricky, you will need extra care when braking and cornering.

In snow use a low gear to avoid skidding when pulling off, avoid braking suddenly to avoid wheel locking, take it slow and steady and leave plenty of braking distance. If you get stuck in the snow, don’t panic, try a controlled forward and reverse rock to free your vehicle.

Ice and black ice can be a drivers nightmare, be sure to look well ahead for any hazards and keep your speed down.

Always keep both hands on the wheel and try to drive as smoothly as possible to reduce the chance of a skid.

Take it easy on acceleration, braking, steering and move through the gears smoothly.

Remember black ice is transparent, although you may see it glinting in the sunlight, moonlight or headlights, sharp braking here will lead to a skid, if the car starts to skid then try to steer gently into it rather than braking hard and slow down until you get the car back under control.

Up or downhill driving with ice is a test for any motorist, so extreme care is necessary.

Black Ice

Before leaving make basic checks on your vehicle:
– Check tyre tread, good tyre tread is not only a legal requirement (1.6mm for a car is the legal minimum) but essential for a good grip on the road in ice and snow.

– Check oil and fuel levels – essential in all conditions but with snow and ice you might become stuck in traffic for much longer periods.

– Always make sure your car has had winter coolant added to radiators and anti-freeze window washer fluid.

– Check all lights including your Fog lights, you may not have fog when you set off but it may appear on your journey.

– Be sure to clear your vehicle or any ice and snow (including snow on the roof as this can be hazardous to other road users) before you set off, taking the extra time to clear windows, mirrors, lights and your number plate, will keep you road legal and safe.

– Check your route, keep updated with latest weather forecasts and travel news.

Things to check with your vehicle before you travel this winter:
– Fuel and Oil levels
– Coolant Level
– Battery
– Wiper Blades
– Screen Wash
– Tyre Tread and Pressure
– All lights

Before leaving it is a good idea to make sure you have some winter essentials in your vehicle, not only will this give you some peace of mind, but will certainly come in handy should you have a breakdown or collision.

Things to take with you when you travel this winter:
– Ice scraper and de-icer
– Torch and batteries
– Warm clothes and a blanket
– High visibility jacket
– Jump leads – make sure you know how to use them properly
– Empty fuel can
– Boots with a good grip
– A snow shovel, not essential but certainly handy
– Warning triangle
– Mobile phone with full battery
– A paper road map
– Some food and drink
– Contact number for breakdown service and any membership card numbers
– Details of your motor insurance in the event of an accident and pen and paper