Winter driving

Winter vehicle checks
Winter driving

During the winter the challenges of changing weather conditions means the number of breakdowns doubles.  Spending some time looking after your vehicle with a few simple checks could reduce the chance of you being caught out.

  • Clean your window screen inside and out to reduce glare in low sun.
  • Clean and replace damaged washer blades.
  • Clean lights and check all are working and if necessary replace bulbs.
  • Check your car battery (many retailers offer winter checks).
  • Check levels of washer fluid and anti freeze.
  • Check tyre depths.

Good tyres are an essential part of staying safe in your vehicle – they not only supply grip for steering, braking and acceleration but also take care of your comfort.

Tyres are designed to give good grip in wet conditions but grip reduces with tyre wear and as the depth of water on the road increases. You should reduce speed in such conditions.

Winter driving conditions

Changes in weather conditions can often leave drivers unprepared for the increased risk they face. Maintaining your vehicle is important but also having the right attitude and driving behaviour can keep that risk as low as possible. Take time to update your knowledge to help you deal with all driving situations.

Snow and ice

  • Listen to weather reports and warnings.
  • Ensure that your windscreen wash fluid mixture is suitable for low temperatures.
  • Carry essential winter equipment such as spare clothing and suitable footwear, spare food and drink, a torch, a shovel and a blanket.
  • Defrost the car completely before driving off.
  • Use the highest gear you can for moving off.
  • Avoid any sudden braking or steering through good forward planning and adequate safety margins.
  • If possible - don’t drive!

Heavy rain

  • Always use dipped headlights.
  • Double the normal following distance.
  • Ensure your tyres have adequate tread.
  • Aquaplaning means loss of control - try to avoid steering or braking in these conditions - take your foot off the accelerator.
  • If you have to drive through floods use a low speed, low gear and keep the engine revs high by slipping the clutch. This will help to avoid water getting into the engine.


  • Always ensure you are visible to other road users by using suitable lighting.
  • It is illegal to use rear or front fog lights unless visibility is seriously reduced (generally this is when you cannot see for more than 100 metres).
  • Ensure a safe following distance.
  • Open the window to listen at junctions.

For further advice contact the Road Safety Team [email protected].