10 tips for driving in the snow
1. Stay home!
Our first tip is to simply stay home if at all possible! Accidents can happen wherever you go, and just because you are a confident driver doesn’t mean your fellow motorists are. Of course, it’s great if you’re able to get into work safely, but if you don’t have to be anywhere, it’s best to play it safe and stay warm and unharmed in the comfort of your home. After all, who doesn’t love a snow day?
If you must travel, make sure you let someone know where you’re going, which way you’ll be travelling there as well as your ETA.
2. Take it slow
It sounds obvious, but too many drivers are overly confident of their own abilities – even in adverse weather – and travel at their normal speed, which simply isn’t sensible when it’s snowing.
When it’s snowing, all of your usual manoeuvres like stopping, turning and speeding up take longer, so give yourself plenty of time to prepare for each stage of your journey safely.
This also applies to your approach to accelerating and decelerating. Slamming your foot down on the gas or brakes will only cause you to slip and slide around and put yourself and others at danger, so the smart snow drivers take it slowly to enable them to maintain control at all times.
3. Keep your distance
Another no-brainer, but it’s worth reminding ourselves to increase the braking distance between you and the car in front when driving in the snow. Up your following distances from three to four seconds to eight to ten seconds to be on the safe side, and you could provide yourself with valuable extra time to prevent a collision.
4. Clear all windows
Being able to see is a pretty basic requirement for driving in all weather conditions, but none more so than snow. So although it sounds like another obvious one, the law does require you to drive with fully cleared windows, so always make sure you’ve removed all snow and ice before you take the wheel.
Don’t forget your lights and number plates too, as these must be cleared as well.
5. Don’t stop moving
Once you’re moving, try to keep it that way, even if that means slowly rolling up to the red light until it changes. If you stop, you may not be able to get started again and risk being stranded mid-journey.
6. Test your brakes regularly
It’s crucial to be familiar with your vehicle’s brakes and how they operate. Apply a steady pressure on your brakes by keeping your heel on the floor and the ball of your foot on the brake to stay in control of the vehicle and avoid the need to brake suddenly in the event of danger.
7. Manage your gears
When you’re driving on an icy road, a higher gear may be a safer option to enhance your wheels’ grip and prevent wheel spin. If you drive an automatic, it should let you choose a second gear to start in, or may have the option to switch over to manual – make sure you’re familiar with your options before you travel.
8. Steer into a skid
If you find yourself veering off in the wrong direction, don’t panic and most of all, don’t try to turn in the opposite direction, as this will be counter-productive. Simply steer into the skid (so if the back of your car is skidding left, steer to the left), keep your hands firmly on the wheel and don’t brake suddenly.
9. Fill up
Make sure you have a minimum of half a tank of fuel in your vehicle before embarking on any kind of journey in the snow. This is for two reasons – first of all, you won’t risk running out of petrol and being stranded in a blizzard and secondly, it will prevent your fuel line from freezing up.
10. Pack the essentials
You should always keep your mobile phone fully charged before a journey, that’s just common sense. Yet how many of us remember to keep blankets, extra clothing, snacks and water in our vehicle in case of a breakdown? Now is the perfect time to stock up your supplies to ensure you can keep going, even if your car doesn’t.
If you do end up stranded in a snowstorm without warm clothing, use whatever you can find in the car to keep warm – maps, magazines and even floor mats could turn out to be your best friends!
Getting to Gatwick Airport in the snow
As long as Gatwick Airport is open, we are too! However, in inclement weather, we always advise customers to plan their journey carefully by checking traffic information and deciding on the best route for the conditions.
To avoid an unnecessary journey, check Gatwick Airport’s website, as well as your chosen airline’s site, to ensure your scheduled flight is going ahead before you set off.
If you don’t fancy driving around in the snow searching for Gatwick Airport car parking, our meet and greet valet parking service could be just the ticket. Book your car into our ParkMark approved car parks here and we will send a fully insured, uniformed driver to meet you at the terminal.