How to drive in snow – what gear you need to be in

BBC Weather: Amber warning issued ahead of snow

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At the moment weather warnings are in place across several areas of the UK, and lockdown restrictions also prevent people from carrying out non-essential travel. But if people decide to drive, Express.co.uk has spoken to experts and collated their tips on how to drive in the snow.

How can you prepare for driving in snow?

Before setting out on a journey, motorists should make sure their cars are prepared for the road conditions.

Gareth Davies, Head of Car Insurance at MORE THAN, told Express.co.uk: “With the weather taking a turn for the worse and heavy snow settling in across the country, it’s important that if you really do need to drive, you do so safely.

“You should always be prepared when driving in the snow, ensuring that before you drive, you have the correct kit, including anti-freeze and spare pieces of carpet to help you gain traction if your car gets stuck.

“It’s also essential that you clear your whole car of snow and ice, so that it doesn’t fly off and distract yourself or other drivers on the road.”

It’s a good idea when faced with snow to make sure cars are well-stocked with necessary equipment and supplies.

Lucas Waldenback, co-founder of Zutobi, told Express.co.uk: “With lots of the nation experiencing snowy conditions at the moment, motorists need to take additional precautions to drive safely.

“Preparation for a drive in snowy weather is a crucial part of driving safely – you should try to allow more time to get to your destination, stick to major roads (which are more likely to have been treated for safety) and de-ice your car properly.

“In fact, motorists could risk receiving a £60 fine and three points on their license if they do not clean ice, frost or snow off their car properly.

“Be sure to remove any ice or mist on your windscreens, door windows, back windows and mirrors, as well as clearing all snow that may be leftover on the roof of your vehicle.

“Though driving with snow on your car roof is not against the law, you could face a £60 fine for dangerous driving, so ensure you take the time to clear your car properly – even if you’re running late.

“Checking things such as your screen wash levels, and the health of your tyres is also extremely important in snow or icy conditions to ensure you’re able to drive to your destination safely.

“Finally, we advise packing the essentials in case the worst happens and you break down.

“A torch, de-icer, blanket, snacks, first-aid kit, jump leads, phone charger and hi vis jacket are just a few of the essentials you should consider packing – just in case.”

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What gear should you drive in?

When snow is a factor, people should be extra cautious on the roads and give other drivers plenty of space.

Mr Davies added: “When you are driving, it’s extremely important to plan ahead and take it slowly.

“Make sure you drive at slower speeds with a higher gear as this will help you to gain more traction and control of your car.

“You’ll also need to ensure that you brake very gently to avoid skidding – remember that stopping distances can be up to 10 times longer in winter conditions than in dry conditions, so don’t rely on traction control and ABS alone.”

The RAC advice for driving in snow recommends people accelerate gently and use low revs and change up to higher gears as quickly as possible.

Wheel slip can be reduced by moving off in second gear, while some cars also have a winter mode.

When going downhill, the RAC said a low gear should be used and people should try to avoid braking unless it is necessary.

Peter Brabin, Head of Training at Bill Plant Driving School, told Express.co.uk: “If there is snow and ice on the road, it’s important to remember that a different set of driving rules come into play.

“You can’t simply brake how you normally would, as you’ll likely skid, veer off and put yourself and others in harm’s way.

“Firstly, you want to consider slowing down at least three times sooner than you normally would, and don’t slam on the brake – instead you want to decelerate slowly and even consider slowing your vehicle down by lowering the gear that you are in at the time.”

Mr Brabin added: “If you do end up going over some black ice, there are things you must do to ensure you recover from it as quickly and safely as possible.

“When you lose control, you should keep both hands on the wheel and avoid braking.

“You should also steer into a skid; this will help get the car straight and back on track.

“Most importantly, it is best to keep calm as it is easy to get flustered, but you must put this to one side to increase safety.”

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