As the weather gets colder, find out how you can prepare for the winter conditions.
Winter weather can be harsh and driving conditions can quickly change with poor visibility plus snow and ice on the roads – so be prepared when driving this winter and take extra care when planning your journey.
Here’s a simple checklist for planning a journey:
- Check the weather forecast and road conditions
- Ensure adequate visibility by clearing front and back windscreens, all windows and wing mirrors and clear your headlights front and rear
- Ensure your windscreen washer is topped up.
- Allow extra time for your journey
- Carry warm clothing, blankets, hot drinks, a torch, a shovel, and suitable footwear
- Ensure your mobile phone is fully charged
- Tell someone at your destination what time you expect to arrive
During the journey:
- Use dipped headlights in poor conditions
- Keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front - stopping distances increase with poor weather
- Reduce your speed and avoid sudden acceleration and braking
- Tune in to local weather and travel updates on the radio
- Stick to the main roads where you can and avoid exposed routes.
- On long journeys, consider taking a break at regular intervals
The latest local travel news can be found on the Traffic England Website.
Clearing snow from vehicles
Before you set off:
- Clear all snow and ice from all your windows - you MUST be able to see clearly
- Ensure that lights are clean and number plates are clearly visible and legibly
- Make sure the mirrors are clear and the windows are demisted thoroughly
- Remove all snow that might fall off into the path of other road users - this may mean clearing the bonnet and roof
Many road users have been concerned by rumours that they could be fined for driving with snow on their roofs.
Snow on the roof can cause a danger not only for the driver but for other drivers on the road - it can slide down the windscreen while the car is moving, dangerously obscuring the view and putting added pressure on the wipers.
It is illegal to drive with an obstructed view and drivers could be prosecuted. However police are taking a common sense approach.
Should an incident occur, each case will be taken on its own merits, looking at the circumstances involved.
Clearing snow from paths
There's no law stopping you from clearing snow and ice on the pavement outside your home or from public spaces.
- Clear snow earlier in the day as fresh and loose snow is easier to clear
- Use salt or sand - not water. If you use water to clear the snow, it may refreeze and turn to black ice
- Take care when clearing - ensure it is moved so it does not block people's paths or drains
- Offer to clear your neighbours paths - check that any elderly or disabled neighbours are ok in the cold weather. If you’re worried about them, contact your local council
For a more detailed weather report, visit the MET Office website for the North East of England.
The Highway Code advises that you must use headlights when visibility is seriously reduced – generally when you cannot see for more than 100 metres (328 feet) or the length of a football pitch. If you do use fog lights they must be switched off when visibility improves. This applies equally to front and rear fog lights. When there's fog around visibility can seriously deteriorate in a matter of seconds. Be extra vigilant and drive only as fast as conditions allow and maintain a greater distance between you and the car in front.