Seven ways to stay safe and avoid delays on icy roads as snow hits parts of Britain

AS Brits brace for a January deep freeze, drivers are urged to be extra cautious on the road.

Yellow weather warnings for snow and ice are blanketing much of England, Scotland and Northern Ireland with temperatures set to plunge to a bone-chilling -12 in parts.

The Met office has warned of "icy patches" on roads, pavements and cycle paths as the mercury dips.

Black ice poses an increased risk of out-of-control skids and accidents, meaning drivers should do everything they can to stay safe.

Here, we round up the top seven ways you can avoid accidents and weather-induced delays while on the road this winter.

Keep your phone fully-charged

Car insurance provider the AA has shared its essential list of cold journey must-haves – if travel in adverse weather is absolutely essential.

In case of a breakdown, drivers have been told to bring with them a fully-charged phone to call for help.

This will speed up the time taken for help to arrive so you can get moving again quickly.

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Check your air pressure and tread depth

You can improve your chances of getting to your destination safely and quickly with some simple pre-drive checks.

One important check is your tyre pressure.

If the pressure is too low for your tyres, road traction can be reduced – proving fatal in icy conditions.

Tyre tread is another important factor for road conditions.

The legal minimum tread depth is 1.6mm, but experts recommend it should be at least 3mm to be as safe as possible.

De-ice your car

It is essential to remove frost and ice from wing mirrors and the windscreen to help improve visibility.

But it is important to use the proper equipment.

Experts advise against using hot water to clear your windscreen because the sudden change in temperature – from very cold to very hot – can cause it to smash. 

Even warm or tepid water could cause the glass to contract and crack.

Furthermore, it is against the law to leave a running car unattended on a public road.

It can be tempting to switch the car on, leave the heaters on full blast, and go back indoors while the ice slowly melts, but if you get caught by police you risk a fine. 

And "portholing" – de-icing only a small area of the window so there is enough space to look out -could cost you a fine and three points in your licence.

Increase your stopping distance

Always allow greater stopping distances in icy conditions.

The distance needed for the car to come to a complete stop increases by more than double when the road is slippery.

Brits are urged to leave plenty of room between them and the car in front to avoid any accidents.

Take it slow

Sudden breaking at high speed on the road can cause a skid.

Many drivers will hit the brakes and steer into a skid as they start to lose control – but that can be a dangerous move for in-experienced drivers.

Instead, slowly take your foot off the accelerator and straighten up as your vehicle rides it out.

Don't go out unless necessary

When temperatures dip, there is one simple way to avoid an accident: staying at home.

If Brits limit their journey's to essential only, the number of cars on icy roads is drastically reduced.

Use familiar roads

If you do need to go somewhere, don't take an unfamiliar route.

Road signs are likely to be covered in snow and phone reception could be limited.

Furthermore, Brits are advised not to take any shortcuts and stay off rural roads as these might not have been cleared.

Winding rural routes are often challenging even in warm weather – so drivers should stick to main roads as much as possible.

Drive in a high gear

Another way to reduce the risk of an accident is to drive in a low gear.

The lower the gear, the slower the wheel spin, meaning drivers won't spin off into a dangerous skid.

RAC Breakdown spokesman Simon Williams said: “Winter is the most treacherous time of the year for drivers.

"A good set of tyres is essential to keep the best possible grip on the road, but reducing speed to match the conditions is also vital.

“Black ice is probably the most dangerous of all conditions as drivers don’t realise they’re on it until it’s too late. Going into a skid is scary beyond belief.

"While it’s good to know that you should steer into a skid, it’s a lot harder to do it when you need to, particularly if it’s never happened to you before.

"When driving in the snow you should keep your speed down but try to be in the highest gear possible as this helps to reduce wheel spin."

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