Driving in winter intro

Information on how to stay safe when you are driving in winter. 

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Before you set off

In severe and wintry weather, it's even more important to plan your journey.   

The Highways Agency provides up-to-the-minute traffic reports for its network of 4,300 miles of motorways and major A roads across England.   

Road safety - National Highways to see: 

  • Latest traffic reports. 
  • Maps showing how the traffic is flowing on England's motorways and major A roads. 
  • Views from CCTV cameras. 
  • Average speeds. 
  • Displays on motorway message signs. 
  • If you are away from your computer or have already set off, there are still lots of ways to get National Highways live traffic information. 

Updates on the move 

Overhead message signs will flash up important travel messages, including warning you of delays and advising of alternative routes. Automatic signs will tell you how long it will take traffic to reach certain destinations.   

There is a free app for your iPhone or you can visit the Mobile services - National Highways to access a mobile-friendly version. This will allow you to select live updates by road, region or motorway.


  • Never stop on the hard shoulder to do this and never use your mobile phone while driving.   
  • Follow the National Highways Twitter channels, @HighwaysNEast over the festive period. They’ll help you prepare for your winter journey with reminders and traffic updates.   

Check weather updates 

Take weather conditions into account when planning your route, by visiting the Met Office website or listening to local radio broadcasts.   


Always allow extra time in severe weather. Listen to warnings or advice and consider whether your journey is essential.    Check your planned route at the National Highways website where you can find up-to-date traffic information. 

Be prepared for driving in winter

Check your vehicle is in good running order before you set out and consider regular servicing to help minimise the risk.    POWDERY checklist for safe winter driving  Use this POWDERY checklist as a good reminder: 

  • Petrol (or diesel): have you got enough? Do you know where to fill up? 
  • Oil: check levels once a month. 
  • Water: check radiator and screen wash once a month. 
  • Damage: check wipers, lights etc. for signs of wear and tear or damage. 
  • Electrics: check lights, indicators and controls are working properly. 
  • Rubber tyres: are they well inflated, legal, with good tread and free from damage? 
  • Yourself: are you fit to drive? Have you slept well? Are you taking any medication(s) that could make it unsafe for you to drive? 

If you are planning to travel with pets, ensure animals are safe and secure and will not be a distraction to people travelling in your vehicle. 

Carry an emergency kit 

Gather together the following items and pack them in your vehicle at the start of the winter season: 

  • ice scraper and de-icer 
  • torch and spare batteries - or a wind-up torch 
  • warm clothes and blankets - for you and all passengers 
  • boots 
  • first aid kit 
  • jump leads 
  • shovel 
  • road atlas 
  • sunglasses 

How to keep your tyres safe in winter 

Cold temperatures, damp roads, snow and ice all reduce a tyre's ability to grip the road properly, leading to longer stopping distances and a higher risk of accident.   

The safest option is to fit winter weather tyres, which are specifically designed to provide extra grip and improved levels of safety at temperatures lower than 7°C.   

Tread depth should be checked to ensure it is well above the legal minimum of 1.6m. TyreSafe has developed the 20p test for a simple and quick way to test your tyres' tread depth.   

Tyre pressures should be checked every two weeks and before a long journey. Pressures should be checked when the tyres have travelled less than two miles against the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended levels.   

When checking tyre pressure, give the rest of the tyre a thorough visual inspection for signs of damage. Look for any cuts, cracks, bulges or embedded objects. If you are in any doubt, speak to a professional. 

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