When driving in winter weather conditions, often ice or black ice can make getting from A to B a little more challenging. Follow our top tips for driving safely in winter weather:
Although the appearance of snow and ice can be a rarity in the UK climate, it’s important to understand how to drive safely and carefully in these conditions. A great place to start with this before even getting into your car is to choose a tyre that is designed to provide traction and grip in icy and cold conditions. Choosing a winter tyre that has been designed to work best in temperatures around 7°c and below and deal with ice and snow will give you reassurance when it comes to staying mobile safely in winter as well as giving optimum grip and traction for handling and shorter braking distances compared to summer tyres. Read our article comparing breaking distances between summer and winter tyres on icy road conditions.
A good indicator of whether a tyre is designed for icy conditions is if it has been given an ‘ice tyre’ icon on the EU Tyre Label. The ice tyre icon was added to the EU Tyre Label in 2021 and indicated a tyre provided shorter braking distances on icy road surfaces in winter. The icon itself features an ice stalagmite.
The Highway Code in the UK dictates that extra preparation and care must be taken during adverse winter weather conditions in order to keep drivers, passengers and pedestrians safe. Before heading out you should consider the following:
Wet and dry winter performance.
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When it comes to driving in icy conditions, many of the recommendations are similar to that of driving in snow conditions:
Stopping distance on ice can be vastly different depending on the type of tyres you have fitted to your car. By fitting winter tyres that are designed for cold conditions, the performance, handling and stopping distance can be improved versus using summer tyres in winter conditions.
Given the stopping distances can vary in harsh winter conditions, it emphasises the need to maintain more space than usual between your vehicle and the vehicle in front to ensure plenty of stopping space for any unexpected events.
Black ice is a very thin coating of ice that is transparent in colour – often this appears on roads or pavements which are dark in colour, hence it takes on the colour of a surface and is called black ice. Due to the invisible nature of black ice, it makes it a very dangerous condition to be driving in as it is difficult to avoid something you cannot see very easily. It tends to build up in areas of shade, tunnels and bridges – mostly at the coldest parts of the day like early morning and late at night.
Black ice takes drivers by surprise – the slippery road surface can mean that even the best winter tyres are unable to maintain contact with the road surface which leads to a lack of grip and traction. If you drive over a patch of black ice it will feel as though the vehicle is swerving, it’s important to not panic and follow these tips:
Tyres can make a big difference to any vehicle on winter roads – although sometimes having the traction of 4 wheels moving can help, the tyres are the only part of the vehicle that is making contact with the road surface. Winter tyres are designed to be able to handle lower temperatures thanks to their compound makeup and design featuring sipes to grip onto snow and ice to create the traction needed to grip the road surface.