Don’t let Jack Frost strike – useful tips as you get back on the road this winter

We usually dress for the weather, and when the temperatures drop this means wrapping up with a hat, gloves, scarf, a big coat and appropriate shoes.

So, it makes sense when you’re heading out this winter to adapt your driving behaviour to suit the weather and road conditions around you.

With white frosty mornings also come icy roads, and that’s why Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards has put together some advice on how to deal with driving in icy conditions:

  • In very bad weather, where police advice is not to travel, it is better to stay at home rather than risk an incident. Always check the weather and road conditions on your route before setting off; if you are using public transport links, remember they too, may also be delayed.
  • Make sure you know how the heater and demister settings on your car work and how to adjust them properly. Clear the mist from the windows before setting off.
  • Ensure your lights and wipers are working well; you need to see and be seen. If your wipers are making a terrible squeaking noise, it’s time to get them checked; they may need replacement blades or the arms straightening.
  • Never pour boiling water on the screen as the sudden temperature change may cause cracks. Prevention is better than a cure, so if possible cover the glass overnight with an old sheet to prevent freezing, or invest in a windscreen cover.  Never use newspaper or cardboard on a wet screen as it can get stuck and leave a real mess.
  • If you haven’t done so already, get an anti-freeze check at your local garage or fast-fit centre. Keep your washer bottle topped up with an even stronger concentration of screen wash.
  • It might sound obvious, but you may need up to 10 times the distance to stop in icy conditions – increase your following distance to account for this. If the car in front must stop suddenly or worse still, a crash occurs, you will need that extra time to react and stop safely.

Richard said: “As ever, preparation and planning are the key to worry-free driving when the mercury plummets.

Plan your route carefully as major routes are likely to be treated with salt and less likely to be icy – but ice might still form in dips, on bridges and in shaded areas.

Leave more time for your journey, respect the conditions and don’t rush. Factor in delays and give yourself plenty of time to clear the ice properly from all your windows. Windscreens and windows MUST be kept clean and free from obstructions to vision.”