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Winter Travel

Extreme weather conditions and icy roads can make driving more difficult, especially in winter. By following this advice you can help to make your journey safer and reduce delays for everyone.

Be prepared for bad weather

Make sure you don't get caught out when severe weather strikes.

Check and service your vehicle

You can reduce your chances of breaking down by regularly servicing your car.

You should also:

  • top up anti-freeze and screenwash
  • check for wear and tear on wiper blades 
  • make sure your battery is fully charged (batteries last between two and four years - replace yours if it's no longer reliable)
  • keep tyre pressure at the manufacturer's recommended level and there is sufficient tread - a minimum of 4mm is recommended in snow conditions
  • wipe dirt and spray off headlamps and make sure all bulbs are working
  • windows and mirrors are clear of ice and condensation

Carry an emergency kit

A basic kit should include:

  • map
  • jump leads for the car battery
  • torch
  • warning triangle
  • ice scraper and de-icer
  • first-aid kit
  • warm clolthes

If you are planning a long trip or if severe weather is forecast, you may want to add:

  • a shovel (if there's a chance of snow)
  • a pair of boots
  • a blanket
  • any medication you need to take regularly
  • food and a thermos with a hot drink
  • Sunglasses are useful too, because of the glare in snowy conditions.


Plan your journey and check the latest weather and travel advice

Ask yourself whether you really need to travel - or if you can delay your journey until conditions improve.

If you must travel, plan your journey carefully.

Before you set off:

  • check live traffic information online by following the link below or call the Highways Agency live traffic information service on 08700 660 115 (covers England only) - and be prepared to delay your journey or change your route if necessary

As you travel:

Stopping distances

When roads are slippery it can take you up to 10 times longer to stop.  Reduce your speed and drive with extra care, even if roads have been gritted.

In the most severe weather conditions you should only drive if you really need to - otherwise it may be better to delay your journey until the weather improves. Even after roads have been treated in winter, driving conditions may remain challenging, especially if the road location and layout mean there is a high risk of ice. Be aware that ice forms more easily on:

  • hilly or exposed roads
  • roads that pass under or over a bridge
  • roads shaded by trees or buildings

if you start to skid:

  • press the clutch
  • steer into the skid
  • as you straighten, steer back along the road

Don't let winter turn you into a bad driver - check the Highway Code information on 'Driving in adverse weather conditions'. This section of the Highway Code covers driving in:

  • wet weather
  • icy and snowy weather
  • windy weather
  • fog
  • hot weather