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Driving in Bad Weather

By: Sally Aquire - Updated: 14 Aug 2010 | comments*Discuss
Driving In Bad Weather Driving In Wet

Driving in bad weather usually means you will have to adjust your driving style to adapt to the different conditions. For example, driving on wet or icy roads requires you to alter your braking.

Wet weather

When the road is likely to be slippery, you will need to adjust your braking style. On dry roads, you should maintain a gap of two seconds to the car in front, but you should increase this when the road is wet or icy for safety reasons as your tyres will have less grip. As a general rule of thumb, you should look to keep a gap of at least four seconds, so that you have enough time to stop safely if you need to. Staying a reasonable distance behind the car in front also gives you a greater opportunity to see potential obstacles before they happen.

Water on the road may contribute to steering difficulties, in which case you will need to ease off the accelerator slightly to make the vehicle easier to handle. When slowing down, reduce your speed slowly to cope with the lack of grip.

Icy weather

In icy conditions, your tyres will have very little grip. Driving when the road is icy or snowing is particularly dangerous, so it is best to stay at home unless your journey is absolutely essential.

If you must use your vehicle, there are several safety considerations to be aware of.

  • You must be able to see through the whole of your window screen, otherwise you will not be able to fully see the road ahead. This may involve de-icing.
  • Make sure that your lights are clean, and your number plate is clearly visible.
  • Make sure that you can see clearly out of your mirrors. For the inside mirrors, this may involve de-misting the car.
  • Drive carefully and keep at least a four second gap to the car in front.
  • The condition of the road can change very quickly, particularly if you encounter a section of road that has not yet been gritted.
  • Sudden movements can cause your vehicle to skid. When you need to accelerate or brake, do so gradually (rather than in one sharp action).
  • When approaching a bend, slow down gradually before you take the bend to limit the chances of skidding.


If a roadside signal alerts you to approaching fog, be prepared to encounter a bank of fog shortly, even if the road ahead currently seems clear.

Switch your lights on if you cannot see more than 100 metres ahead of you. If visibility is particularly poor, you may also want to switch on your fog lights, but these should be turned off once normal visibility has been resumed.

Windy weather

In severe winds, vehicles may be blown over on an open stretch of road with nothing on either side. You may also be affected by turbulence when being overtaken by large vehicles, such as lorries.


Good weather can also create problems:

When the weather is hot, the road surface may become soft, which can have an effect on braking and steering.

If the inside of your vehicle is heated by the sun, it can quickly result in tiredness. Turn on the air conditioning to maintain a comfortable temperature.

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