Not all of us can get behind the wheel of a Toyota Land Cruiser when winter brings freezing conditions to our roads. Snow, ice and other challenging conditions can increase dangers, so to help you stay safe we’ve compiled a list of winter driving tips.
Winter driving tips for snowy and icy roads
- If your car has a control setting for snow or ice, use it. This will reduce torque to the driven wheels and therefore reduce the chance of wheel spin.
- Be gentle with the clutch. Power will be delivered to the driving wheels more smoothly, reducing the chance of skidding.
- Be gentle with the throttle. In a front-wheel drive car, too much throttle on a slippery surface will make it understeer, resulting in the car not turning as much as it would with a normal amount of grip. In a rear-wheel drive car, however, too much throttle will make it oversteer, which is where the rear of the car exaggerates the steering input and slides out.
- Anti-lock braking systems (ABS) are designed to help you brake and steer around obstacles at the same time. But in order to work effectively the system needs to sense grip on the road surface. So in icy or low-grip conditions you should reduce speed and brake gently, keeping your eyes focused on the point you want to reach.
- If you have a crash mitigating system, such as Toyota Safety Sense, try to keep snow and ice off your car’s radar sensors. Blockages in their ‘vision’ will stop them working correctly.
- During a cold snap, your Tyre Pressure Monitoring System (TPMS) could show up a warning. Be sure to double-check that your tyres properly inflated with our tyre pressure and size guide.
- Consider fitting cold weather tyres, which dramatically improve grip and stability when ambient temperatures are less than seven degrees Celsius. Please note, however, that the principles listed above remain the same whether winter tyres are fitted or not.
Driving in rain and on flooded roads
- Rain reduces your visibility and increases stopping distances, especially during the winter months, so it is advisable to double the distance between you and the car in front.
- Use your headlights when visibility is reduced, in accordance with the Highway Code.
- Regularly check the functioning of your lights and the condition of your windscreen wipers. Replace any defective bulbs and blades as necessary.
- Should the steering begin to feel light or unresponsive due to rain or standing water, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.
- If the roads are flooded, avoid areas of deep water, which is usually by the kerbs. If you do decide to cross through water, drive slowly but keep your engine revs high to avoid stalling. Be aware that bow waves from approaching vehicles can submerge your car to a much deeper level.
- Do not attempt to cross deep water – a car can float in as little as two feet of standing water.
Driving in fog
- Fog is one of the most dangerous weather conditions during winter, as an accident involving one car can quickly escalate to involve others if they are driving too close. Leave a distance of at least three seconds between you and the car in front.
- Use your headlights and fog lights to increase your visibility to others.
- At junctions, wind down your window and listen for traffic.
Winter driving: strong winds
- During winter you can expect sudden gusts at any time but particularly on open stretches of road, through gaps in roadside hedges, or when passing across bridges.
- Hold on tightly to the steering wheel and be prepared to correct your course to stay in lane, or to avoid other vehicles and debris blown into your path.
Winter driving: when the sun is low
- If the sun is not too low, use your visor to create some shade for your eyes.
- Reduce your speed to increase the safety margin between you and the car in front.
- Keep the inside and outside of your windscreen clean to reduce the effect of glare.
Winter driving tips: condensation
- Vision clouded by condensation on the windows can be an issue during colder months. Click here to read our separate guide to reducing this issue.