Driving on ice: top tips

* Be prepared * What to do if you skid * Slow down!...

8 Jan 2010 14:05 | Last updated: 14 Jun 2018 00:03

Beat the freeze and keep safe with our guide to driving on ice.

If you don't live on a main road, or your local council has run out of grit, you could find yourself driving on compacted ice. Avoiding non-essential journeys is a sensible precaution, but if you must take to the roads, follow our top tips to staying safe on the ice.

Be prepared
• Check that your tyre pressures are correct and that they have at least 3mm tread. Don't be tempted to reduce your tyre pressures, it's dangerous and could be illegal.
• De-ice all your windows thoroughly, not just a face-shaped hole in the windscreen;
• Check local traffic reports, and stick to major routes where possible;
• Early morning and late in the day are the most hazardous times to drive.

On the road
• If you have problems pulling away, try selecting second gear;
• Gently does it: drive smoothly, avoiding sudden turns and braking or hard acceleration;
• Drive in as high a gear as is safe to avoid wheelspin;
• Slow down it's the best way to avoid getting into trouble.

Stopping
• Stopping distances can be 10 times longer than usual when driving on frozen roads, so slow down and keep an increased distance from the car in front;
• Even treated roads can still have icy patches, so remain cautious on all surfaces remember that in very cold conditions road salt simply doesn't work;
• Stuck? Put a sack under the front wheels for the tyres to grip onto, then keep moving until you reach safe ground.

Skidding
• Ignore your instinct to slam on the brakes, this will make things worse;
• Depress the clutch and ease your foot off the accelerator or brake;
• Turn the steering wheel gently in the direction that you want to drive, and when the tyres regain grip on the road you'll be back in control;
• Even in icy conditions, skids are almost always a result of driver error, so stay in control by slowing down.

For the latest national travel information visit: www.highways.gov.uk