Driving In Extreme Weather Conditions - Three Top Tips

You've got a spade, a blanket, a pair of wellies, a torch and a flask of hot drink ­ and you're ready for anything Mother Nature can throw at you.

Except, of course, extreme weather conditions.

Here are three things that all drivers need to know about driving in icy and snowy weather.

1 Your most important asset is good visibility. Not only do clean windows make sense, but it is actually illegal to drive without good all-round visibility. Scrape off all ice and snow (never use hot water!), make sure all the mirrors are clear and the defroster has cleared the insides of the windows.

2 Driving on snow is dangerous, but at least you know it's there. Driving on ice is even more dangerous, not just because it can be more slippery, but mainly because you often can't see it. And the thicker it is, the harder it is to see.

Black ice forms when running water or standing water freezes on the road.

And it doesn't automatically disappear when the sun comes out ­ it lingers in the shadows. Expect to find it on corners, bends and roundabouts that haven't been warmed by the sun and it won't take you by surprise when you do come across it.

3 Some people think that wearing sunglasses when you're driving in snow looks ridiculous. But it makes absolute sense. Low winter sunshine reflecting off snow can be blinding, so keep a pair of anti-glare glasses in the car.

Colin O'Connell is Chief Examiner for DIAmond Advanced Motorists and DIAmond Advanced Motorcyclists. He has been involved in road safety and advanced driving techniques for more than 40 years.

"Being able to anticipate black ice could save your life," says Colin. "Of all the things you need to know about driving in ice or snow, this is the most important."

2 December 2005 Staff

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