Winter wonderland

* Bad weather on the way * Don't get caught out * Our guide to winter driving...

Winter wonderland

Uh-oh! Youve pulled back the curtains to be confronted by a winter wonderland. Worse still, its a cold snap, and theres new snow falling as quickly as the constant passage of cars sweeps it away.

That means youll have to deal with snow on the roads and unpredictable patches of ice, making conditions treacherous and hold-ups inevitable.

• British drivers have been slow to catch on to the benefits of cold- or all-weather tyres just 3% of tyres sold in the UK are cold-weather rubber, as opposed to 10% in Holland or 50% in Germany (where, admittedly, winters are typically harsher).

As the name suggests, cold-weather tyres are designed to work best in low temperatures, typically from -15C to 7C, thanks to their rubber compound, construction and tread pattern. In these conditions they offer grip and therefore safety benefits of up to 30%.

While there are different grades of tyres for winter conditions, extending all the way to specific snow tyres, the vast majority of drivers will need only a set of cold- or all-weather tyres.

• Leave enough time to thoroughly demist the inside of your car before setting off dont start moving until you have good all-round visibility. Make sure the cars blower is pushing out plenty of hot air, and that the air-con is on, so the mist doesnt build up again.

• Keep sunglasses in your car because they can help cope with the glare from a low sun.

• Make sure you carry an in-car phone charger with you, because cold weather will make the phones battery discharge faster.

• Carry warm, waterproof clothing in the car, just in case you get stuck. Take a torch, in case your journey extends into darkness, a high-visibility jacket in case you have to stop, and consider taking a shovel if you are in an area of high snowfall.

• Carry food and water in the car, as well as any other essential equipment you may need if you get stuck for an extended period of time.