Heavy snow and icy roads

OpenRoad minimising the effect of weather on your operations

Take extra care

When temperatures fall to sub-zero, the number of deaths from heart attacks peaks three days later, from strokes five days later and from respiratory infections ten days later.

When snow or icy roads are forecast you should adjust your driving to suit the conditions. Black ice isn't always visible and so can be an even greater hazard for both motorists and pedestrians. Black ice may be formed when rain or drizzle fall on a road surface which is at a temperature below zero.

Make sure you know what to do

Before snow or ice

  • If you have to make a journey when snow is forecast, make sure you have warm clothes, food, water, boots, a torch and spade, and let someone know when you expect to arrive and your route. Try to wait until the roads have been gritted before travelling.
  • Put grit or cat litter on paths and driveways to lessen the risk of slipping on compacted snow.
  • Check on vulnerable neighbours.

During snow or ice

  • Avoid travel if possible.
  • If you must drive check the Highway Code for advice on driving in ice and snowy weather. A summary of the advice is: Take care around gritters. Don't be tempted to overtake. Slow down - it can take 10 times longer to stop in snowy or icy conditions, so allow extra room. Use the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin. Manoeuvre gently and avoid harsh braking and acceleration. If you start to skid, gently ease off the accelerator and avoid braking. If braking is necessary, pump the brakes don't slam them on. If you get stuck, stay with your car and tie something brightly coloured to your aerial.
  • If you go outside wear several layers of clothing and keep dry to prevent loss of body heat. Watch out for signs of hypothermia - uncontrollable shivering, slow/slurred speech, memory lapse and drowsiness and frostbite - loss of feeling in and pale appearance of fingers, toes, nose and ear lobes. Keep moving your arms and legs to help the blood circulate.

After snow and ice

  • Be careful when walking or driving on compacted snow - it may have turned to ice.
  • Take care when shovelling snow. Cold air makes it harder to work and breathe, which adds some extra strain on the body and can be the cause of heart attacks in the vulnerable.

Travel advice produced in association with the Highways Agency

Last updated: 19 November 2013