Tips for safe driving in winter: part 1

Off-road vehicle drives through hazardous wintry conditions on small road.

Published 9 April 2021
Last updated 8 March 2024

This blog looks at how to maintain vision all the way around your vehicle in rainy, grey conditions and in snow and ice.

Where has this year gone, eh? It seems like only yesterday that we published a post about driving in summer showers. And now December is upon us, bringing its usual selection of grey skies and wet roads. It may not be full-on winter whiteness out there, but that does not mean that you can skimp on those all-important safety checks.

If you’re reading this and thinking ‘So what am I supposed to do?’, then do not worry. We’ve put together some handy hints to make those murky winter journeys as safe as possible.

Before we dive in (and before anybody emails us!), we’d just like to say that we’re doing things a little bit differently this year. Rather than run through every single piece of safety advice in the one post,* we’ve decided to feature a different topic each week. That way, you get to absorb the info in easy-to-digest nuggets – and we get to have fun writing more blogs. Everyone’s a winner.

Being able to see clearly

This week, we’re going to focus on that very important topic – vision.

If it’s essential that you maintain vision all the way around your vehicle in good weather (and it is!), then you can imagine how important it is when it’s cold and wintry outside.

Check out these top tips to learn more.

In rainy, grey conditions

  • Clean your windows thoroughly. You may have picked up dirt and grime from mucky winter roads on previous journeys, so make sure that you give those panes a good wipe down before you set out. The police can stop you and fine you if they think you cannot see the road and other road users clearly.
  • Get yourself a really good microfibre cloth and use it to wipe the windows on the inside. Try not to use your hands or the sleeve of your coat – it’s not effective and can end up adding dirt and grime to the glass, rather than taking it away.
  • If you’ve got air-con, then use it. It’ll help to clear moisture from the inside of your car windows.
  • Make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition and do not leave annoying smears or streaks. If your wipers are worn, replace them and enjoy the clear view that comes with new wipers.
  • Keep your washer bottle topped up and use a brand of screenwash that includes antifreeze. This’ll reduce the chances of it freezing in cold weather.

In snow and ice

  • All of the above is still relevant, but there are a few more things to think about.
  • Clear the snow and ice from your windows before you even think about driving. The most effective way to do this is with de-icer spray and a good quality scraper, so make sure you have these items in your winter driving kit. Whatever you do, do not run inside, fill up the kettle and throw the boiling water all over your car. Not only will this cause the windscreen glass to expand – and maybe even crack – but it may also leave pools of water on your drive or the road. These pools can quickly freeze and create an additional hazard for other road users and pedestrians.
  • Clear any snow from the roof of your car, as this can slide down the windscreen and obstruct your view. It can also fly off, causing irritation and a potential hazard to other drivers.
  • Make sure your windscreen is free of snow and ice before you use the wipers. Otherwise, you could damage the wiper blades.
  • If you’re driving in falling snow, it can build up in the areas not swept by your wipers. If this happens, find somewhere safe to stop and clear the snow before it blocks your view.

More coming soon!

So that’s your first instalment of winter driving advice. We’ll be back with another very soon, but if you cannot wait until then, head over to the Safe Driving for Life shop and pick up a copy of The Official DVSA Guide to Driving – the essential skills. It’s the perfect companion to The Official Highway Code and contains everything you need to know about driving safely – whatever the weather.

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