Winter Driving


Driving in the winter is all about Prior Preparation and Planning. Most collisions are caused by not adjusting your driving for the conditions that you find yourself in, or just not being prepared at all. If there is rain or fog, snow or ice keep your speed down and increase the stopping distance in front of you.

Stopping Distances

Did you know that in GOOD weather conditions :

“Only a fool breaks the 2 second rule” ? Yes? Great!


Question - What are wet and icy conditions going to do to your stopping distance?

Answer - Increase it! Obvious?

Then why do the vast majority of drivers drive to close to the car in front. Think of the Motorway as a perfect example, cars solidly bumper to bumper at 70mph (admittedly 70+ with many drivers).

So, the 2 second rule covers GOOD weather and road conditions.

But what about in WET weather? It DOUBLES to 4 seconds

And in ICE? It is up to TEN times! That is a 20 second distance on ice.

Remember the 5 Habits of a good driver
  • Look well ahead Further than normal......nope, further still.....nearly soon could you have seen it?

  • Keep your eyes moving – Be aware of ALL mirrors, ALL blind spots and use them accordingly

  • Spot the Hazards – If you spot it, you can react to it. How often have you said “But I hadn't seen it”?

  • Keep space– If they don't get too close they can't hit you. Take charge and take early controlled action BEFORE it becomes a problem or emergency. The best form of emergency stop is to not have to do one.

  • Be seen– Lights? Don't blind people, Think road position, Signal (Speed, Brake Lights, Reverse Lights, Indicators, Position and Angle are all Signals – Use them)

  • two lanes of cars in winter

Accept That None of Us

Are Perfect

When was the last time you took professional driving advice or even looked at the Highway Code?

Typewriters became Computers, but you would need at least some simple training to use a PC. The same has happened with cars and the road, so get some advice.

Maybe you want your son or daughter to pass their test in a cheap hassle free way? Then improve your skills and help them improve theirs.

Do you always change gear 1-2-3-4-5 or 5-4-3-2-1? Do you signal around parked cars without thinking what you are telling people? Are you a flasher?

Contact Us for a driving assessment. In as little as 2 hours we could have you seriously reducing your risk, increasing your fuel economy and enjoying your driving. We won't treat you like a learner, we will respect you for wanting to confirm that you are as good as you think, and we might just teach you something new

If you come away from the session without feeling any benefit, we will give you the second hour FREE!

Winter Driving related links:

Highways Agency - responsible for England’s motorways and trunk roads

RoSPA - Royal Society for the Prevention of Accidents

Brake - the road safety charity

Think - Road safety from the Department of Transport


Still got Questions?

Something got you thinking?

Looking to stay safe but not sure how?

Then check out our Question and Answer page

Send us a question and we will give you our best answers

If It Has Been Snowing or May Snow

Prepare before you leave!

Give yourself AT LEAST 10 minutes extra to prep the car.

Checklist for bad weather supplies :

Coat, boots, blanket, shovel, torch, an old sheet (to place under tyres if you get stuck), something to eat and drink, ice scraper, FULLY CHARGED mobile phone, basic 1st Aid kit, reflective jacket, jump leads & warning triangle.

Plan your journey & routes and prepare for the worst.

Clear ALL windows of snow and ice using a scraper and de-icer. Clear the snow from the roof so it doesn't cover the windscreen when you brake. De-mist the inside BEFORE driving off!

Frozen Locks? Use a cigarette lighter to warm a key.

Before you leave think F-L-O-W-E-R-Y

Fuel– Do you have enough? Prepare to be stuck in traffic – you want to stay warm!

Lights – Check them all. Use a reflective surface or window if necessary.

Oil – Check the level when the engine is cold on a level surface.

Water – Antifreeze. In most modern cars this should be replaced every 2 years. A 50-50 mix is the best for winter covering you to temperatures of 34 below!

Electrics – Battery and Bulbs. Lights, heaters and windscreen wipers put high demands on the battery. Batteries normally need replacing every 4-5 years, so do it rather than regret it. Don't run electrics if you don't have to. When you're starting up the car ensure that non-essentials like lights, rear screen heater and wipers are turned off.

Rubber – Tyres and Wiper blades. Check tread and condition. DONT FORGET the spare, this should be inflated to the highest pressure you may need. It is harder to put it in than let it out at the road side.

You – Are you fit and healthy? Are you prepared? If bad weather do you NEED to drive? Glasses (When were your eyes last checked?)




DO NOT under-inflate your tyres. This does not improve traction and will increase the risks.

Make sure you have All Weather tyres or better still consider Winter tyres. These have a higher level of Silicone and will stay softer & grip better under cold conditions.

Check your pressure, condition & tread depth! Grip, you will need it! The legal limit is 1.6mm, but in ice and snow the more the better. Less than 3mm gives severely reduced traction, so make sure you are covered. Remember you only have 4 CD cases holding you on the road!

Do you have a working jack and wheel brace, and that you know how to change a wheel if necessary. Where is the wheel on your car? How do you release it? Do you have a locking wheel nut?

Picture of snowy road See and Be seen

Beware of dazzle from the low sun. Make sure that ALL windows and mirrors are clear and clean – inside and out.


Air con demists faster and reduces condensation.

Check the wiper fluid – Make sure it is a winter mix and Full – an empty bottle could cost you a fine + 3 points!

Keep your number plate clean- again points and a fine may follow if you don't!

Use the correct lights and don't blind other drivers.

Make sure you adjust the angle of your headlights using the switch inside the car.

Fog lights if visibility is less than 100m, if it isn't then turn them off!

DO NOT use sidelights/parking lights to drive – they are for parking, use dipped headlights instead.


Driving on Ice

Avoid harsh acceleration, braking and steering.

Use the highest gear available without causing the car to struggle.

Keep your speed down.

Listen – No sound may mean ice on the road.

Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas, dips it the road, brows on hills or on exposed roadways like bridges

Front wheel skids

  • Take your foot off the gas pedal and drop the clutch

If your vehicle starts to skid:

  • Drop the clutch. Do NOT brake
  • Steer into the skid
  • Once straight steer along the road
  • Release the clutch and accelerate lightly.

Rear wheel skids

  • Take your foot off the gas pedal
  • Steer into the skid.
  • You may then need to compensate in the other direction using a left, right, left approach until you get your vehicle completely under control

If you are forced to brake:

  • Standard brakes - pump them gently
  • Anti-lock brakes (ABS) - do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure, you will feel the brakes pulse – maintain pressure.

If you get stuck

  • Do not spin your wheels. It will only dig you deeper
  • Turn your wheels from side to side move the snow
  • Very light acceleration, slow and steady
  • Clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car
  • Use a rug or sand to help get traction

The Winter Driving Advice has been put together by Chris Bensted, Driving Instructor at CB's Driving School. Offering professional Driving Lessons in Sevenoaks, Tonbridge, Tunbridge Wells and the Surrounding areas.

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