/ Motoring

Winter driving: is it go or snow-go in your area?

Motorway covered in snow

With the weather on the turn, we’re expecting some drivers to find themselves facing snowy and icy conditions this weekend. But will you brave the cold weather or should snow be seen rather than driven in?

On our trip to check out how the winter tyre testing was going in January, we managed to film an extra advice video, which should help inexperienced drivers to feel less fearful of getting stuck or having a crash in the snow.

We went to find real extreme weather for the video – and managed it. Our journey to the test ground was hindered by three blocked main roads, the third requiring us to load the car onto a train to go under a mountain where the pass was blocked.

And we had to fit our snow chains, even though our vehicle was fitted with winter tyres. While we were out there, we also organised a test of snow socks, though they are still in progress – we’ll let you know as soon as they’re finished.

Hopefully, nobody in the UK will face that sort of adversity, and for me, if it snows this weekend, I’ll try and keep doing my routine journeys, but I’m not planning any long drives.

Whatever your situation, the advice we offer is simple to apply, and works even when the conditions aren’t as extreme as we found in Switzerland. My advice is to watch our video and read the advice before tucking up with a cocoa and hiding from the cold snap we’re experiencing right now.

If it snows, are you planning to drive, or will you stay at home and avoid the chaos?


Thanks for the useful video. There’s nothing new for me but it provided a reminder that I broke a catalytic converter by driving through what looked like a puddle but turned out to be an enormous pothole full of water. The poor general state of the road should have given me a clue.

I am not planning to drive this weekend because of the poor conditions forecast.

I will never drive in conditions I cannot walk a dog in. I have never had a crash – I don’t intend to start. I’d sooner watch inside.

Frankly where I live in London snow of more than 1/2″ is very rare and it has gone the next day – I can only remember about three or four times when a day off work was insufficient to clear the snow enough to drive safely. They were In 1947 – 1963 and sometime in1980’s

At the moment the snow is too deep to drive safely – but it is melting fast and should be clear tomorrow or Wednesday.- Even so I don’t think I’d lash out 2/3s of my annual OAP’s disposal income on a set of winter tyres that I would hardly ever use based on past experience.

Ah, so there is one benefit of living in London. 🙂


That is what I stated at the beginning of the “Time to change to winter tyres” conversation – I have driven for 64 accident free years – driving daily – in London – so I would not waste my money on a set of unused winter tyres – only to be shouted down by some poster.who lives in the sticks.

The snow that was 4 to 6 inches deep yesterday morning – has now gone – so provided it isn’t several degrees below zero tomorrow morning it will dry and safe to drive as usual at around 10 o’clock.

London does have the best restaurants and theatres in the country! 🙂

I’m not bothering with winter tyres either. I try to avoid driving if there is snow on the main roads and try to avoid busy roads by choosing when to make journeys. My driving record is pretty good and I don’t recall hitting anything while going forwards, but I do have this problem with forgetting about small bollards when going backwards.

My driving style involves gentle acceleration and gentle braking if necessary, which offends London Taxi drivers and others.

I’m sure you are right about the restaurants and theatres but I would rather be able to escape the city within a matter of minutes (if the roads are free of snow).


I live very close to the start of Epping Forest – It is roughly a mile away – I walk my dogs there a couple of days a week.- just a couple of minutes away with not a road in sight – I have walked 12 miles in Epping Forest without crossing a road.

Before that I lived near Wimbledon Common – I’ve been surrounded by “country-side” all of my life in London – Richmond Park – Barns Common – all free to use.

Normally when it snows I’d rather be safe than sorry and avoid driving completely. I did however find myself driving in the heavy snow on Saturday after a trip out to Milton Keynes – some 50 minute drive away from my house.

Now, this was a very interesting drive home as I got a real insight into how poorly prepared some drivers are for such weather – I witnessed so many cars spinning around and sliding all over the place (including the motorway!) as if they were putting on some kind of ‘cars on ice’ show.

Nevertheless, with only a few minor hiccups (got stuck a few times as a result of poor, panicking, drivers up ahead) my 8 year old Fiat got me home. Did take nearly an hour and a half longer than usual though, and at various points I was ready to pull all of my hair out.

Would I repeat that though? no. I will certainly pay more attention to the weather forecast next time!

This I agree with – The number of inept ill-prepared drivers is totally amazing – they cant all be “new” drivers.(I was taught to drive in winter by an advanced police driver many years ago).

As for winter preparation – I have a roof box that contains survival blankets – primus stove and fuel – dixies- water – coffee and a few tins of food plus a battery charger for my phone.as well as all the normal extra tools I might need in case of a problem – It contains all the stuff most people put in the boot.
This leaves the back of the car completely free (back seat down) for my three large dogs who would keep me warm while we slept during the wait for rescue. We’ve actually tried this a couple of times as we also trained for camping.

I was a long time boy scout – and still follow the Scout Motto of “Be Prepared” 🙂

At least Captain Scott did not have to cope with his destination being blocked by unprepared explorers. 🙂

That’s a useful reminder to put some things in the car. I’m not planning to set off in snow or when it is expected, but you never know.

Like to report that as expected – the roads were dry and frost free in my area of London by 06:30 this morning – perfectly safe to drive – except for 2 foot piles of snow left by idiot home owners who instead of clearing their paths and leaving the excess snow to melt on the garden – have dumped it on the road.gutter

All areas that were untouched had dried completely with no sign of snow – just as it usually is in similar circumstances .

Phil says:
9 February 2012

I’ve not long got home, although the snow isn’t deep there’s a layer of ice underneath and it is very slippery. The winter tyres performed well, traction and braking were much improved and the car didn’t slide off course once. I could tell from the tracks left by other vehicles that many were sliding about.