Safer Driving In Snow

Road safety and breakdown organisation GEM Motoring Assist is encouraging motorists to ensure they – and their vehicles – are ready for the potential challenges of driving in winter.

In this second of four advice notices, GEM road safety officer Neil Worth answers questions on driving safely in times of snow:

What is a safe speed for driving in snow?
Experience shows that it is not your speed that’s the problem, it’s how you lose the speed in order to stop in an emergency, or to negotiate a sharp bend, or pull up safely at a junction. If there is snow on the road, your braking distance will be vastly increased compared to what you’re used to on a dry road. The faster you go, the more distance you will need to stop safely. Be sure to maintain a risk assessment. If it’s actually snowing and settling, then you must slow right down. Try to maintain momentum by anticipating when you’ll need to slow down and speed up.

How can I expect my rear-wheel drive car to behave on snow?
It may well accelerate poorly, I’m afraid. Front wheel drive cars will be much better at pulling off in conditions of low traction.

What are the best roads to use when it’s snowing?
It may sound unhelpful, but the best advice is not to drive at all if you don’t need to. Gentle hills can become impassable, and even busy motorways can quickly turn into car parks during a snowfall.

What emergency equipment should I take if I have to drive in snow?
Take a hot drink flask, snacks, a blanket, rug or sleeping bag to ensure you can stay warm if you get stuck. If you need to leave your vehicle, then it’s a good idea to ensure you have boots, a warm coat and reflective jacket with you.

Check out GEM’s advice on winter driving techniques. You’ll find a video, leaflet, tips and a free eBook download at www.motoringassist.com/winter-driving

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