Driving safely in winter weather

Here is some advice on planning journeys from Traffic Scotland, who provides current and future travel information for drivers using the Scottish trunk road and motorway network which includes major A roads and motorways.

Check the Traffic Scotland website before you travel in Scotland

The route planner on the Traffic Scotland website homepage provides the option to enter your location and destination to identify the best route to take. You can apply filters such as congestion, current incidents, live traffic cameras, roadworks and weather warnings to the map on the homepage to get the full picture of what travel looks like on that day, or in the future. Another helpful tool is Traffic Scotland Radio which provides national and regional travel information and advice direct from the Traffic Scotland Control Centre.

Similar information is available for other parts of the UK via these links: England, Wales, Northern Ireland

Maintain your vehicle 

Before you head off in winter, it’s best to be prepared. Pack an emergency travel kit. Check your lights and tyres and clear your windscreens of any ice or snow. 

Leave extra time

Whenever you’re planning to travel, don’t be in a rush. During winter months, conditions can be tricky – if you’re running late, it might be tempting go faster than is safe in the conditions. Make the journey as smooth as possible and get there in plenty of time. 

Have a look at the Traffic Scotland gritter tracker 

If weather conditions are particularly chilly, the gritter tracker will display where the gritters have been so that you have an idea of what the roads conditions are like. Did you know that Traffic Scotland gritters are named? Gritty Gonzales, William Wall-ice and Sweet Child O’ Brine are just some of them. 

Consider investing in winter tyres 

Winter tyres are tyres designed to provide maximum traction on roads. They're not just for vans, taxis and other commercial vehicles. They are also great for private cars and can help you stop sooner - reducing your stopping distance by up to 40%. 

Drive to the conditions of the road 

Leave extra stopping distance from the vehicle in front, keep both hands on the wheel and take your time. It’s better to arrive later and safely, rather than the alternative. Use the Traffic Scotland live traffic cameras to view the conditions and congestion on the roads.

Pay attention to signs on the road 

Traffic Scotland variable message signs display important information about the road ahead. They are used to inform you about incidents, roadworks, congestion or conditions on the road ahead (such as surface water), as well as any speed restrictions, helping to make your journey safer.  Red Xs on the overhead signs show which lanes are closed. It is illegal to continue travelling in a lane with a red X overhead. Please move to an open lane when you see this. Similar rules are in place if you are travelling in England, Wales or Northern Ireland.

The control room team at the Traffic Scotland National Control Centre in South Queensferry works closely with partner organisations including Police Scotland, Ready Scotland, road operating companies and the Met Office to monitor hazardous weather conditions and decide ways to make the roads as safe as possible, as well as, to share travel guidance and tips to road users. 

More information about travelling in winter in Scotland can be found on the Traffic Scotland website. You can also listen to travel information or report any road defects via the Customer Careline on 0800 028 1414.