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Road Safety

Winter Driving

Winter driving

Snow advice

Play our radio interview with advice for winter driving (click the play symbol to start)

Driving on snow and ice

Driving on snow and ice can be challenging and has safety and financial consequences for the unwary.

It is important to prepare your car properly, to clear all of the windows and also the lights of snow, not forgetting to clear the roof to prevent the snow sliding down the windscreen or blowing off distracting other road users. You must also clear your number plates.

When driving on icy and snowy roads the golden rule is to drive very slowly, ice can be patchy. When using the controls it is important to have a light and delicate touch, driving at the lowest speed and in the highest gear possible. Remember to allow more time for your journey.


Safe distances when driving in snow and ice

It is important to have a safe separation distance from the vehicle in front, the usual of advice of the two second is not enough in icy conditions, braking distances can be as much as ten times as much. Even the car on the right is only about 65m from the car ahead, about 1/3 of the possible stopping distance.


  • Be particularly careful when on hills and making turnings as the tyres may not have enough grip
  • If you do become stuck in snow or on ice then try using a higher gear to move away, this may give you the traction you need
  • If you are still stuck then placing an old blanket under the driving wheels, usually the front, may get you going again
  • Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow
  • Keep your battery fully charged
  • Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles
  • Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order
  • Check that tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the correct pressure.
  • Visibility can be seriously reduced and the use of dipped headlights is essential in falling snow
  • Watch out for fog - it drifts rapidly and is often patchy
  • In foggy conditions, drive very slowly using dipped headlights
  • Use fog-lights if visibility is seriously reduced, but remember to switch them off when visibility improves
  • Don't hang on to the tail-lights of the vehicle in front. This gives you a false sense of security and means you may be driving too close
  • Don't speed up suddenly, even if it seems to be clearing. You can suddenly find yourself back in thick fog
  • In fog, you think you are travelling slower than you really are.

Read our advice on how to plan your journey >>

Devon County Council is responsible for over 12,800 km (8,000 miles) of road from major A roads to narrow country lanes. This is the longest network in England.

The British winter is unpredictable. Bad weather can strike suddenly so the best advice when severe weather hits is to stay off the road. If you must drive, remember over 90% of crashes are attributed to human error, so make sure you are prepared and drive for the conditions.

More Information