Tips on driving in the snow and ice

Did you know that the average snowiest day in the UK is 10th February?  No, me neither.  But apparently it’s true, so I present to you tips on driving in the snow and ice.

To celebrate the average snowiest day, LV= Insurance sent me on a skid pan training session to help me prepare for the decrease in road safety conditions.

If you’ve never heard of skid pan driving, you’re basically in control of a car which is fitted onto a specially designed skidpan car cradle to simulate driving in slippery conditions.  The idea is that you learn how to control a car as best you can should you skid in bad weather.

Tips on driving in the snow and ice - Skid pan driving - Taken from a DannyUK.com article

It may not look slippery, but that’s because you can’t see the cradle that the car is strapped in to!

The course started with a short briefing before we moved out onto the pan.

The idea with skid pan driving is that you sweep across the pan at different angles and speeds, discovering what makes you skid, how you can avoid it and which way to steer when you feel the car slipping out of control.

It’s all about recognising the behaviour of the car on the pan and balancing the steering, brakes and throttle in order to regain control.

Apparently, your reflex action when you start to skid is often the complete opposite to what you should do.

I learnt that it’s all about recognising the behaviour of the car on the pan and balancing the steering, brakes and throttle in order to regain control.

Once I’d been round the track a few times as a passenger, I got the chance to drive.

Skidpan car cradle - from Silverstone.co.uk with thanks

Not the car that I was driving, but a similar set-up with a skidpan car cradle. Image taken from Silverstone.co.uk with thanks

I spent over an hour throwing the car around and talking with the instructor about driving in poor conditions.  The skidpan track had different surfaces to represent different road conditions including wet,  muddy and covered in leaves.

So, what tips can I pass on?  Here’s what I learnt regarding tips to driving in the snow and ice.

  • Drive slowly - Most accidents in bad weather are caused by people driving too fast.  Allow time for your journey and take your time getting there.
  • Use a high gear - If you’ve ever tried to drive in snow you’ll know what it’s like to have your wheels spin as you set off.  Choose a higher gear.  Set off in second gear if you can and move up gears quickly to give you more control.
  • Check your tyres - This should be a prerequisite for every journey, but it’s even more important in bad weather.  Tyres that are worn take longer to stop.
  • If you skid, STOP accelerating - You’d think that you’d do this naturally, but the reality is that you are so pre-occupied with trying to control a skid that it’s all too easy to keep accelerating which only makes things worse.
  • Steer into a skid - If the worst happens and you start to skid, try steering into it. You may have to then steer back the other way if the car starts slipping, but if you don’t steer into the skid, the car will spin.

My thanks go to LV= Insurance for setting up this experience!

Tips on driving in the snow and ice - DannyUK.com driving Infographic

by DannyUK

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