Safe driving in winter – advice from our gritter drivers

Clear your drive

Clear the snow and ice early. It's easier to move fresh, loose snow than hard snow, so if possible start removing the snow and ice early.

If you remove the top layer of snow in the morning, any sunshine during the day will help melt any ice beneath. You can then cover the path with salt before night time to stop it refreezing overnight.

Use salt or sand - not water. If you use water to melt the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice - which is invisible and very slippery.

You can use ordinary table or dishwasher salt - a tablespoon for each square metre you clear should work.

If you don't have enough salt, you can also use sand or ash. These won't stop the path icing over as effectively as salt, but will provide good grip underfoot.

Be careful not to spread salt on plants or grass as it may damage them.


Prepare your car

Give yourself an extra 10 minutes to de-ice your car.

Check your fuel levels – keep at least a quarter of a tank in case you get stuck in traffic.

Clear all windows using a scraper and de-icer – don’t drive off with a tiny hole cleared in the windscreen.

Use a lighter to warm a key for a frozen lock.

Clear snow from the roof – it can fall onto the windscreen and block your view, or fly off onto the car behind.

Plan routes to favour major roads, which are more likely to be cleared and gritted.


Drive safely

Pull away in second gear, and ease your foot off the clutch gently to avoid wheel-spin.

Going uphill – wait until it’s clear so you don’t have to stop half way up. Try not to change gear on the hill, and keep your speed constant.

Downhill – slow down before the hill, use a low gear and try to avoid braking. Leave as much room as you can to the car in front.

If you have to use your brakes, apply them gently.

If you do get stuck, clear the snow from the wheels and put a sack or old rug in front of the driving wheels to give them some grip.

Driving tips

We make every effort to increase safety on the county's roads. Despite this, icy or snowy weather can make venturing out on the county's roads a treacherous experience. Here are some top tips for safer driving this winter:

  • plan your route to work - use the online gritting routes map - and make sure you have a road atlas in your car
  • reduce speed and allow extra space to slow down – it can take ten times longer to stop in icy conditions than on a dry road
  • use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin whilst maintaining appropriate speed
  • manoeuvre gently, avoiding harsh braking and acceleration
  • get into a low gear earlier than normal when braking on ice or snow, allow the vehicle’s speed to fall and use the brake pedal gently to avoid the wheels locking
  • ease off the accelerator but do not brake suddenly if skidding occurs
  • use car visors and reduce speeds in the event of being dazzled by winter sun
  • clear snow from all windows and also the roof, otherwise this can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view and could potentially result in a fine - it can also be a hazard to other road users
  • help our gritters and emergency services get through to keep the roads clear - if you're forced to abandon your car, make sure you leave it as close to the side of the road as you can.

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