Worried about travelling safely in unpredictable conditions? Then read on for Outdoor Expert Advice on Commuting in Winter Weather.
Every British winter is the same old, same old: everything goes into a standstill as we all panic, desperately wondering how we will possibly travel anywhere safely in such unpredictable conditions.
Trains get cancelled, roads become blocked, traffic worsens and some of us are a little too scared to walk, utterly sick with worry that we’re going to fall flat on our backs after slipping on some black ice. And when the alternative requires twenty minutes of defrosting your car, temptation sinks in and the allure of a day spent in the warm, cosy house seems much better than risking your life to get to a cold office.
Of course, it would be nicer. But at the end of the day, we all have important places to be, so we’re here to help you get to where you need to be, seeing the people you need to see, as quickly and safely as possible.
Whether driving, walking or even cycling, we’ve got the info you need.
How to Drive in Snow
While some might opt for the bus or train when things get scary, many still prefer to get in their own cars and brave the roads. If this sounds like you, then we have a few smart tips to help you avoid the ice and snow that adds extra time to your commute, including prepping your car for these conditions and driving safely on icy roads.
First things first, if there’s a weather warning that there’s going to be a heavy fall of snow or risk of ice overnight, it’s in your best interest to take action to save time in the morning.
- Place a blanket or special cover over your windscreen to prevent ice from forming overnight
- Wake up 10-15 minutes earlier than usual to de-ice or clean the snow off your car
- Never put hot water on the windscreen to defrost ice – the sudden temperature change can cause the glass to crack, and you don’t want to have to make an insurance claim all for the sake of being 5 minutes late to work
- Make sure to clear any snow off the roof to prevent it from falling or melting onto the windscreen and obscuring your view of the road
- Keep an emergency box in the boot for when the car is snowed in – with a small shovel, defrosting spray, strong mit or ice scraper, blankets, jump cables, plenty of water and some snacks
- Try to plan a route that sticks to main roads and avoids smaller or lesser-used roads, as these will more likely be gritted early in the mornings
- Make sure that your phone is fully charged when leaving in the morning and take a portable charger if possible
- Wear comfortable and dry footwear that can easily manage driving
How to Drive on Ice
Tyre grip is not as strong when driving on ice and this will change how you should drive entirely:
- Most importantly, you should be aware that braking distances are much longer, so you should always be alert and take precaution if you have any doubts while driving.
- Drive considerably slower than usual as this is in your own safety’s interest as well as everyone else’s.
- Driving in a higher gear may also be more appropriate to help the tyres have a stronger grip on packed ice. This will also help to manage the engine power delivery, making it much easier to keep steady and find traction.
- Manuals and automatics may differ slightly as many automatics allow you to select second gear at a standstill to pull away in. Be wary of this if driving a manual and bear the clutch in mind at all times as you do not want to stall.
You should know that your car may get stuck and traffic will congest much quicker, so take the necessary steps to prepare from our list above.
Let somebody know your planned route and stick to it so that if you do get stuck someone will know your whereabouts and may be able to help you, or alternatively help you instruct your roadside rescue company.
Save a phone number of said roadside rescue company – whether you are signed up or not – as it will come in handy should you need it and you’ll save time looking for one to call, getting you home much quicker.
How to Drive in Snow With Front Wheel Drive
If you are driving a front-wheel-drive car, then we would recommend following the same instructions above, although you might also want to take additional measures.
It has been recommended by roadside recovery companies to use a pair of snow chains on the front wheels when driving a front-wheel-drive car in the snow.
But what are snow chains, you wonder?
Snow chains offer the best grip in snowy and icy conditions and are best suited for driving in deeper snow. While more time consuming to fit than your snow boots, they are considered so essential in certain countries that they are actually a legal requirement for driving in the snow – that’s when you know they work!
They should always be removed once the snow has cleared or when driving on a clear road, as they can damage your car and the road when used in inappropriate conditions.
Similarly, for rear-wheel-drive cars, you should fit chains to the rear wheels.
How to Cycle in Snow
Cycling can surprisingly save you a lot of time in the winter months as you will beat the congested traffic and get to your destination quicker, although it may seem riskier.
When cycling in the snow it is crucial that you wear hi-vis clothing and/or add-ons. The mornings and evenings are obviously much darker, so you must wear the appropriate clothing to remain visible at all times to keep you safe.
Hi-vis clothing ensures that motorists, pedestrians and other cyclists can spot you in the distance and be aware of your bearings. A bell might also help with this!
Take extra time and care when cycling in the snow and ice, making sure to cycle slower than usual and not allowing yourself to get too cocky, as black ice can appear at any time. Main roads will be more likely to be gritted so stick to them and just be extra cautious when overtaking anyone.
Stay away from gutters as they will collect melted ice and debris, which often cause accidents.
Adjust your tyres for the icy conditions, if possible, giving you more tread.
How to Walk to Work Safely in the Winter
Last but certainly not least is the pedestrians out there.
If you’re lucky enough to live within walking distance of your workplace or, alternatively, are required to walk for part of your journey – i.e. to the bus stop or train station – then there are some key preparations to make before leaving your house in the morning.
- Wear a waterproof and windproof coat to keep you dry and warm – this is not the season for denim jackets, my friend.
- Wear the right shoes – a pair of snow boots, hiking or walking boots with additional grip, or waterproof wellies are recommended. Snow boots are the top dog, though.
- Wear thick and well-insulated thermal socks.
- Grab a hat, scarf and gloves to keep the key areas of your body warm.
- Take an extra pair of socks to work in case yours get wet on your commute trekking through the snow.
Winter Commuting Shoes
It wouldn’t be so handy for us to simply tell you what kinds of shoes to wear for walking in the snow and on ice without actually giving you any options, would it?
Here at Trespass, we have a variety of appropriate winter shoes and boots on sale. Here are some of the key types of browse:
- Snow boots – the most recommended for a harsh winter.
- Wellies – you can never go wrong with a pair of wellington boots, and we have plenty of strong, waterproof ones available for you to choose from, for all ages.
- Walking boots – designed to offer comfortable protection and good grip while maintaining balance and stability on many different terrains.