Seven dos and don’ts for driving in icy conditions

A car lies on its side on Wotton Lane in Exmouth and others are left abandoned as the road becomes i

A car lies on its side on Wotton Lane in Exmouth and others are left abandoned as the road becomes impassable due to snow, Picture: Felix Northover - Credit: Archant

Do not be caught out by the icy conditions on the area’s road.

Emergency service vehicles tackling a snow covered Baytree Road hill.

Emergency service vehicles tackling a snow covered Baytree Road hill. - Credit: Archant

With cold weather predicted to be sticking around well into February here are seven dos and don’ts for driving in cold conditions.

Dartmoor is currently covered in snow and ice patches are appearing on key routes through the county.

Researchers from have revealed seven dos and seven don’ts for travelling on the roads in freezing weather, to help motorists combat the cold snap.

Keeping an eye on tyre tread and inflation levels is an absolute must, along with taking your time and driving in a higher gear when suitable.

Rushing around, de-icing with boiling water and taking an unfamiliar route are, on the other hand, major mistakes when the temperature touches freezing on the roads.

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1. Do take an old cloth or piece of clothing to remove any mist from the inside of windows, which form as the heating takes effect.

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2. Do drive more slowly and in a higher gear when appropriate, to retain as much control of the car as possible.

3. Do allow greater stopping distances and stay alert for pedestrians and other potential obstructions.

4. Do be prepared for a breakdown – have recovery numbers to hand and a small tool kit if possible, as well as a warm blanket, snacks and a torch.

5. Do use a frost guard if your journey is pre-planned. When it gets dark the night before, cover the windscreen with a towel or two to potentially save time in the morning – soak them in salt water first, if possible.

6. Do check the inflation and tread on your tyres – the legal minimum is 1.6mm but experts say it should be at least 3mm to be as safe as possible.

7. Do ensure your lights, mirrors and number plates are clear as well as all of your windows – this is a legal requirement, as is removing any snow on the roof that might fall and obstruct your view as you drive.


1. Don’t make unnecessary journeys in icy conditions. If the trip can wait until it warms up, don’t bother.

2. Don’t brake or accelerate too quickly. Rushing on icy roads is a recipe for disaster; don’t even think about trying to beat the lights, overtaking needlessly or turning sharply around corners.

3. Don’t try to de-ice your vehicle by pouring boiling water all over the windscreen and windows – unless, of course, you want to crack the glass. Use a specifically designed ice scraper or can of de-icer instead.

4. Don’t forget to keep your oil, screen-wash and fuel levels up – the last thing drivers need is an avoidable stop and to then be walking on the ice.

5. Don’t take an unfamiliar route. Getting lost is far from ideal at the height of summer, but during the coldest months roads signs could be obstructed, phone signals interrupted and there will be fewer people on the streets to ask for help.

6. Don’t use short-cuts and rural roads, unless there is no other option. Sticking to as many main roads as possible should make car journeys in icy conditions safer, as these are more likely to have been treated with grit and used enough by other traffic to melt some of the ice.

7. Don’t brake and steer into a skid in order to regain control. Instead, come off the accelerator and let the speed of your vehicle naturally fall, while you ride it out and straighten up.

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