Tips to help cope with snow and ice on the roads

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The weekend has brought heavy hail and snow showers to areas across the the Western Isles and Grampian Highlands leading to ice on the roads.

If you’re out and about remember that icy weather can make even the easiest of journeys more risky than usual.

Small changes in preparation before you set off, as well as minor adjustments to your driving techniques, can make the process easier, and a lot less dangerous in the long run.

From ensuring your car is properly de-frosted, to increasing the gaps in front of vehicles by up to ten times the normal distance, there are a series of top tips we’d recommend drivers follow in icy conditions.

Mike McGrail, senior product manager at Swinton Insurance, said: “We’re also encouraging local residents to double check their insurance policies are accurate so they offer sufficient cover when it comes to incidents involving snow and ice.

Top tips from Mike:

It can be frustrating waiting for the car to defrost, but you must avoid breathing on the locks or pouring hot water on your windscreen to speed up the process - the moisture from your breath could condense and make the problem a lot worse than it already is. Extreme changes in temperature from hot water could also easily crack the glass on your windscreen. Stick to the specific lock and windscreen de-icer sprays to be safe.

When on the road, in icy conditions it’s best to pull away in second gear or select ‘2’ in an automatic, this will limit the gear changes and make you less reliant on the brakes – we all know harsh braking can lead to skidding on icy roads. To help avoid this further, make sure to drive in as high a gear as possible, while accelerating and braking as gently as possible.

Remember to increase the gap between you and the vehicle in front – you may need up to ten times the normal distance – and keep your speed steady, especially when you see congestion ahead. To slow down without locking your wheels, first drop down to a lower gear than usual, let your speed fall, then gently apply the brakes.