Driving Safely in Snow: A Comprehensive Manual

Driving in snow-y circumstances can be extremely difficult for drivers and even result in accidents. In light of this, it is essential to thoroughly prepare yourself before travelling in snow. It is important to know how to prepare your vehicle and yourself for unfavourable driving circumstances. You should also think about alternative driving strategies. Is it prohibited to drive a car that has snow on it? Yes, so take it out of your car before you go on your next trip.

in snow

The journey can be made safer by using the following advice.

Plan your trip

  • Make sure to properly plan your route before you go. For the smoothest possible travel, use the RAC Route Planner to receive traffic news updates.
  • Think about places that will be exposed to the elements and maybe prone to flooding. To avoid being taken off guard, stay informed on the weather where you are.

Additional time

  • Before leaving, give yourself more time than usual to clean the snow from your car’s windows, mirrors, lights, and the top of the roof; if you drive with snow on your car, you may be breaching the law.


  • De-icing your windscreen is also necessary because it is an essential aspect of winter driving. Pay attention to these pointers to maintain a clear windscreen.
  • Equally crucial can be learning how to demist your windscreen in double-quick time.
  • Having a lock de-icer on hand will help you clear your lock, which is another smart move. Try warming the key or spraying a de-icer or oil-based lubricant into the lock if your locks do freeze.
  • It is wise to account for the time required for the next inspections before you leave.

Examine your wipers

Before starting the engine, make sure all auto wiper controls are turned off. If they are frozen on the screen, this could cause the wiper control fuse to explode. To successfully clear your windscreen, your wipers must be in good functioning order.

Examine your tyres

  • Make sure the tyres have enough tread. When driving on snow and ice, bad tyres will not have traction.
  • If you live in a region where snowfall is frequent, switching to winter tyres with deeper tread may be worthwhile. If the weather is particularly poor, you might want to think about wearing snow chains or even snow socks.

Use a screenwash

To stop the water from freezing, use a high-quality screenwash that protects down to at least -35. If you don’t, harsh weather conditions can prevent your windscreen wipers from working. You can check and top off your screenwash if you are unsure.

Bring emergency supplies

  • Be ready for anything by making sure your car has the following items: a demisting pad, a torch (wind-up so you don’t run out of battery), a hi-vis vest to make you visible if you break down, a blanket to keep you warm, some food, a drink, spare screenwash, a de-icer, a blanket, a shovel, a phone charger, a map, a first aid kit, a warning triangle, some jump leads, 
  • The most crucial item to have with you before driving in snow is a fully charged mobile phone with the breakdown service’s phone number saved in it so you can always contact for assistance.

Driving in Snow: Instructions

  • Don comfy, dry shoes
  • Gently accelerate, keep the engine revs low, and shift to a higher gear as soon as you can.
  • Move into second gear as this will assist prevent wheel slip; some cars have a winter mode that accomplishes the same thing; check your car’s manual to see whether it has this feature.
  • Get your speed under control and maintain safe stopping distances from the vehicle in front of you, leaving up to ten times the normally advised spacing. 
  • Leave enough of space in front of you when going uphills so that you can maintain your speed without having to shift gears.
  • When driving downhill, shift into a low gear, avoid braking unless absolutely necessary, and give yourself plenty of room from the vehicle in front of you.
  • Brake before you begin to turn the steering wheel as you approach a bend. Try not to panic if your car loses traction; the important thing is to release the pedal and check that your wheels are pointed in the direction you wish to drive.
  • In the event that you do experience a skid, steer gently into it. For instance, if the car’s rear is sliding to the right, move in that direction. Avoid removing your hands from the wheel or stomping the brakes.
  • Use your dipped headlights if you are travelling in dense snow. Because daytime running lights don’t always illuminate the back of your automobile, relying just on them is insufficient.
  • Turn on your fog lights if the visibility is less than 100 metres. But keep in mind to switch them off once the visibility is better.
  • Driving in the wheel tracks of other cars or on ungritted roads should be avoided since compressed snow is more likely to be icy than new snow.
  • All controls, including the brakes, steering, accelerator, and even the gear shifter, should be used carefully and smoothly.
  • The brightness of low winter sun on the snow can be lessened with the use of sunglasses.
  • Reduce your speed and give yourself more time to stop and turn.
  • Finally, it’s critical to consider your surroundings when driving, particularly any potential microclimates that may exist on the highway. These are places where the sun may not have reached yet, and they might still be icy after the rest of the road has thawed. Bridges are a prime illustration. Typically, they are the last to thaw and the first to freeze. So keep that in mind while you drive in wide-open spaces.
  • Make careful to maintain a spotless car. It’s important to remember to clean your automobile frequently during the winter because the salt used to de-ice roadways can eventually corrode it.

Snow chains, winter tyres, or snow socks?

Each of these items will assist you in navigating the icy conditions, but which one should you choose depending on your driving requirements?

Winter tyres 

These are options to the typical summer tyres that are installed on most cars, and they provide additional traction in inclement weather including rain, ice, and snow. In these situations, they considerably increase a car’s performance, but they might not be able to handle particularly deep snow. Although they are not required by law in England as they are in some other nations, they are advised for people who live in more rural places that are more severely and frequently affected by inclement weather.It’s crucial to determine whether your area need winter tyres.

Winter socks

In case you need to drive in the snow, snow socks are a good idea to keep in your boot:

  • Unexpected snow, such as when travelling on a back road that hasn’t been snow-cleared
  • Taking on a snow-covered driveway 
  • Although they are less expensive than winter tyres, they must be taken off once the road is clear once more.
  • They are less difficult to install than snow chains and are ineffective in really deep snow.
  • The finest traction in snow is provided by snow chains.
  • They must be taken off when the snow melts or when you are on a road without snow since they could harm both your automobile and the road.
  • Fitting them takes longer than fitting socks.
  • In some nations, they are a requirement that must be met.

When should snow chains be used?

Once you get to a clear portion of the road, you should take off your snow chains because they can only be used on a layer of compacted snow. If you disregard this advise, you run the danger of harming both your automobile and the road. Double-check this information before buying snow chains.

If you’re planning a skiing vacation, it’s important to take into account the fact that some European nations require drivers to always have a set of snow chains in their boot. Winter driving provides unique obstacles. These nations often indicate (below) when snow chains are legally required. Although there aren’t many occasions in the UK to use snow chains, it doesn’t mean they aren’t useful. Installing snow chains might mean the difference between making it home or being stranded at the side of the road in the country’s more remote and hilly areas, where the roads may not be treated.

Putting on snow chains

  • If there is not enough space between the wheel arch and the tyre, chains shouldn’t be installed.
  • Chains that are improperly installed can also interfere with any electronic sensors that are built into your tyres.
  • If chains cannot be installed, it would be worthwhile to investigate a second set of wheels that can.
  • The first step in installing snow chains is to make sure your automobile can accommodate them; the majority of vehicles are fully capable.
  • Before you begin, we advise putting on gloves because costly ski clothing soiled with oil or brake dust won’t look good on the slopes. Utilising a high-viz jacket is another smart move.
  • An instruction manual for attaching snow chains
  • A single person is capable of installing snow chains.
  • The snow chains should be taken out of the packing and laid out flat on the ground, twists removed.
  • Additionally, make sure the chain hooks are pointed away from the tyre.
  • Make that the cam-tensioning device for the chains is on the outside of the tyre if it has one.
  • Use a set of chains on the front wheels if the vehicle has front-wheel drive.
  • Install the chains on the back wheels if it has a rear-wheel drive system.
  • Most of the time, if you’re driving a four-wheel drive vehicle, you should mount snow chains to all four wheels. If you’re unsure, check the manual for your car or ask a nearby dealer.
  • After engaging the brakes and shifting into gear, turn off the engine.
  • To prevent the automobile from rolling back and forth as you manoeuvre around the wheels, do this as a precaution.

Setting up the chains behind the wheel is the first task.

  • To accomplish this, feed the chain’s bright plastic-covered portion along the ground behind the driven wheel, making your way from the back to the front of the vehicle.
  • After joining the plastic-covered chain’s ends together and attaching them, lift the chain to the top of the tyre and drape it over the entire wheel and tyre.
  • Utilising the connecting link to secure the upper section, pull the loose links around the perimeter of the wheels.
  • Place the link gently over the tire’s back.
  • After that, tighten the lengthy, loose length and feed it through the tensioning ratchet at the wheel’s base.
  • Before attaching the loose chain, pull firmly.
  • Drive a few yards forward, then let go of the chain and vigorously tug it.
  • This step is crucial because it will pick up any loose ends that may have developed as the chain sat on the tyre as the wheel turned.
  • You can now proceed after tightening the chain that has become loose.
  • With enough practise, you can attach snow chains to a single wheel in about two minutes using this straightforward procedure.

Taking off snow chains

As soon as the automobile is in gear, the handbrake is engaged, and the engine is off, perform the same procedures in reverse order to remove the snow chains. Before putting the chain in the container, lay it down on the ground to get rid of any snow or twists. Keep in mind that not all snow chains are created equal; some will have unique components and call for unique fitting and tensioning techniques. For more details, see the packaging. We advise consulting the box or the merchant who sold you the snow chains for more detailed guidance.

How to drive while wearing snow chains

The finest piece of advice when driving with snow chains on is to drive smoothly. Avoid going faster than 30 mph and softly accelerate and decelerate. Although it’s probably advisable to turn off the traction control, your car’s handbook will have detailed instructions.

Winter socks

In general, snow socks are a good substitute for conventional snow chains because they are textile liners for wheels and tyres.

They are made to fit snugly, covering the tyres and serving as an additional barrier between them and the snow to improve traction and grip. Snow socks have the advantage of being much simpler to fit than traditional snow chains. Additionally, they are quieter and won’t degrade the ride as much as a set of snow chains may. On the other hand, they might not be appropriate for extreme weather and are not suggested for use on highways where the use of snow chains is required.

When should snow socks be worn?

Snow socks are the best choice for the erratic British weather. However, when the snow starts to fall in Britain, they are great to have in the boot of the car to get you out of a tight spot. They might not be suitable for the harshest conditions like snow chains and are not advised for use on roads where the use of snow chains is required (like in some European countries).

Read more: Driving With Snow On Your Car, Is It Illegal?

They are especially useful if you need to leave a snow-covered driveway fast or if you know you’ll be travelling on a road that hasn’t been cleared of snow. It typically shows their value when you aren’t prepared for snowfall and may need to leave following an unexpected snowstorm. It must be taken off when driving on roads without snow and should only be used in regions where there is snow.

Putting on snow socks

Snow chains are substantially more difficult to install than snow socks. You must choose the appropriate pair for your car from among the several sizes that are offered. You may look at your sidewalls to see what size tyre your car has and what size sock goes with it.  

Read more: Clear vision, safe ride: Essential tips for maintaining your car windscreen

How to put on snow socks

The car’s driven wheels must be fitted with snow socks.Pull the sock down to cover the entire tyre while applying the handbrake on the vehicle. Begin at the top of the wheel. Drive the vehicle forward so that the portion of the tyre sock that was previously at the top is now at the bottom, allowing you to fit the remaining portion.

Drive sensibly and within your limits; snow socks won’t transform your automobile into a winter rally hero. When you get to open highways, take your socks off. Consult your vehicle’s manual or your neighbourhood dealer for extra details about snow chains and snow socks. 

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