Top tips to get to grips with icy conditions

Be prepared for icy roads and driving conditions.

Be prepared for icy roads and driving conditions. - Credit: Archant

With the weather turning increasingly wintry, road safety charity the Institute of Advanced Motorists (IAM) has some advice on driving on frost and ice.

IAM chief examiner Peter Rodger said: “Some bits of the country have already had a first taste of this year’s winter. That means it’s time for the rest of us to start thinking about how to deal with it too.”

He offers six tips to help you drive confidently in icy conditions:

n Keep to the main roads as they’re more likely to be salted. Also bear in mind that after the frost has gone, ice can remain in areas which are shaded by trees and buildings – and it forms there first, so be careful in the evening as the temperature drops.

n It may seem obvious to say – but every year people do forget, so ensure you have de-icer and a scraper in your car. And don’t be one of those people, still out there, who only scrape a small area of the windscreen and drive looking through a slit – clear the whole screen to be able to see properly.


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n If the road is slippery when you start off and pull away, do so in second gear, releasing the clutch and accelerating gently, avoiding high revs – this will help prevent spinning the wheels. As you drive, stay in higher gears to help avoid wheelspin. If your car is an automatic be gentle with your feet, and use whatever gearbox features that the car handbook says will help in slippery conditions.

n It may seem obvious but cars end up going off the road and into ditches every winter because drivers haven’t taken icy roads seriously enough. If it’s cold outside treat any patches that look wet with great care – they could be ice, not water.

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n Stopping distances are increased by up to 10 times in icy conditions, so leave plenty of distance between your car and the car in front – plan so that you’re not relying on your brakes to stop – on ice they may not do that for you. If it is really slippery slow down early and use the gears to do it.

n If your car loses grip and starts to slide sideways, take your foot off the accelerator, and point the front wheels where you want to go.

Mr Rodger said: “These are just a few pointers to start you thinking.

“Being mentally prepared, as well as having the right equipment, is vital so think about any problems you encountered last winter, and what you need to do to avoid them or overcome them if they recur this year.

“Be prepared for the worst – icy conditions will affect accelerating, steering and braking.”

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