Last Updated on April 5, 2023

Here in the UK weather conditions can be unpredictable, no matter what the time of year is! From spring snow to summer rainstorms, you never know what you will be driving in! It is best to be prepared for any weather that may come your ways when you are out driving. 
Each type of weather can bring its own challenges especially if you are new to driving. But don’t worry we are here to help! We are going to cover some things to be aware of when driving in different weather conditions so you can drive safely.


How to prepare for driving in different weather
How to drive safely in snow?
How to drive safely in fog?
How do you drive safely in heavy rain?
Is it safe to drive in hailstone?
How to drive safely in thunderstorms?
How to drive safely in wind?
How to drive safely in sun?

How to prepare for driving in different weather 

Before you get out on the road there are some key steps to help you prepare. You never want to be stuck without something you might need when you are trying to drive safely in different weather conditions. 

  • Check the forecast– make sure you check on your local weather before you set off. This can help you be prepared if you need to bring a coat or pack more essentials in your car to keep safe. I also keeps you informed if it will be icy so you can factor in de-icing your car. 
  • Pack for the worst – keep a bag in your car with some important items that you might need in case of an emergency. If your car breaks down or you need to stop to get out of extreme weather if it is too dangerous to drive.  Include things like a blanket, shovel, phone charger, torches, map, warning triangle, water and a first aid kit. The AA provide a survival kit checklist. 
  • Leave more time – Weather and the roads in general can make planning hard to do. Make sure you leave enough time to get to your destination! This is especially important if you are aware of weather warnings or traffic news.
  • Check your Tyres – When driving, poor tyres will not grip onto the road in the snow and rain. The legal limit for a car thread depth is 1.6mm, most people make sure there tyres are around 3mm – you can find how to check your tyres here
  • Refill Screen wash – make sure to top up on your screen wash and that the screen wash you choose to use does not freeze below -35 degrees. 

How to drive safely in snow? 

Snow is often the weather that makes people the most anxious. We polled 2274 participants and 33% said snow made them the most anxious to drive in. 
It is often not just the snow that causes fear and anxiety but the added slush and ice that makes driving difficult. Ice makes the roads very dangerous, and drivers need to pay a lot more attention in order to drive safely. You need to be very careful when driving in snowy winter conditions.

Poll results for the question “which weather condition makes you the most anxious to drive in?”

Make sure you have visibility 

With cold and ice, you will often find that your windows frost up which reduces your visibility. It is very important to de-ice your windows before you even start driving as this can lead to a £100 fine for obscured vision. You must be able to see out of every glass panel on your car – this is a legal requirement (Road Traffic Act 1998). 
You should also clear off any thick snow that builds up on top of your car. This is because when you are driving if you have any harsh breaking the loose snow may fall off on to your windscreen and obstruct your view. Doing this before you set off ensures the snow does not fall and cause problems. 
If you are caught in heavy snow that effects your visibility and you can’t see further than 100m in front of your car. You should turn your fog lights on to help you see. When the weather conditions improve you can turn them off. 
There can also be problems on sunny days when there is snow. The sun can reflect on the white snow which can make it quite bright. This can make it harder to see, bring sunglasses so you can still drive safely. 

How to plan a safe journey? 

If you must drive in snow you need to be very careful in order to drive safely. If the weather is too icy and you do not feel confident driving, you should find alternative transport especially if you are a learner or new driver. 
When you start your journey, moving off in second gear will help reduce wheel slip. Alternatively, if your car has winter mode it will do this automatically. Each car may have a different way to turn on winter mode, but a light should appear on your dashboard, which is usually a snowflake or ‘W’ when activated. You can check your car manual or look it up if you need help turning winter mode on. 
Keeping to main roads is best when conditions are snowy. The roads are more likely to be gritted and clear from hazards when you are driving. Often less busy roads are not taken care of during the winter so can be more dangerous. 
Driving on main roads may also allow you to avoid steep hills and higher ground areas where conditions are worse. If you can’t avoid hills when driving, remember to leave plenty of room. When heading uphill and try to remain in the same gear at a constant speed. When driving downhill, you should continue to leave plenty of space but remain in low gear. 

How to stay in control when driving in snow and ice? 

Keep your speed down! Going fast is more dangerous in snow and ice as it may take longer for you to brake. You should aim to go slower and leave plenty of room for coming to a stop. As a rule of thumb aim to brake when you are around 10 cars away from the vehicle in front. So, make sure you are not going to fast and keep space between you and other vehicles on the road. 

If you do start to skid, it’s important to keep a hold of the steering wheel and not to slam the brakes. Instead, lightly steer into it, for example, if the rear of your car is sliding to the left, start to slowly steer to the left. 

When you’re heading towards a bend, start to brake before you steer the steering wheel. If your car does lose grip, try not to panic, take your foot off the accelerator and make sure your wheels are pointing in the direction you
want to go in. 

Cars driving in heavy snow.
Cars Driving in snowy weather

What about black ice? 

Black ice, is a thin layer of ice that forms on roads which is slippery and transparent. This makes it hard to see especially when you are driving. Areas that are more prone to black ice are quiet roads, shaded stretches of road, tunnels, bridges and flyovers.  

Be aware when you are driving and look for shiny spots on the road or areas other drivers are avoiding. This is a good indicator of black ice. 

If you encounter black ice out on the roads do not hit the brakes, maintain your speed and keep the steering wheel straight. Avoid any sudden movements and use your gears to slow down if needed. 

How to drive safely in fog? 

When driving in foggy weather, the biggest challenge you will face is your vision. Depending on how much fog there is you may only be able to see a short distance in front of you and it can obscure your vision of road markings, signs, other drivers and pedestrians. 
You need to take extra care when driving in fog and be sure to assess your visibility before you set off as you don’t want to get stuck in very bad fog and risk a potential accident. Luckily your car has some features that can make driving in the fog a little easier. 

What are fog lights? 

Fog lights are extra lights located on the front and rear of cars. They are designed to make you easier to be seen in foggy conditions. 

Fog lights are designed to cut through the fog, unlike standard headlights, fog lights illuminate the road underneath the fog to reduce the glare. Regular headlights are mounted higher on the front of the car and aren’t angled downwards; this will cause a glare when foggy, which will be the time to use your fog lights. All cars have rear fog lights, but many also have front fog lights. 

When should you use fog lights? The Highway Code states that you must use fog lights if you cannot see more than 100m in front of you. You must turn your fog lights off when visibility improves to stop dazzling other drivers. If not, you could be faced with a fine of £30 for using your fog lights incorrectly. Make sure you are turning them on at the right time and turning them off too to keep everyone safe and avoid paying a fine. 
Before setting off in the fog make sure your rear (and front) fog lights are working so you can stay safe. If they are not working, you should not drive in the fog and should wait for it to clear. Once cleared you should repair your fog lights. 

Tips for driving in the fog 

  • Allow extra room to brake. 
  • Open your window to listen to traffic. 
  • Remember to check your mirrors before you slow down. 

How do you drive safely drive in heavy rain? 

According to the MET Office, 9 out of 10 weather related deaths and serious injuries on the roads took place in the rain. Rain can cause your tyres to skid more easily, heavy rain can reduce visibility and with flooding you can cause damage to your car. 
The main thing to do when you are driving is to reduce your speed. This can help to reduce sliding and can help you stay more in control of your car. You will have more time to react to sliding and unexpected hazards on the road. 
If the rain is so heavy that you’re struggling to see, even with your wipers on, you should pull over somewhere safe until the rain calms down. 

Can I drive in floods? 

No, If you drive through water that is over a foot deep and stall, you could risk getting water into your engine. This can be expensive to fix and water damage can lead to your car being scrapped. If you do come up to flooding, slow down and drive in low gear to avoid your car from stalling. 
It’s important to note if the rain is particularly bad, it might be worth waiting and drive when the worst has passed and to avoid flooded areas. Flooded water might seem shallow, but since you cannot always see under the water there could be hazards that could damage your car. (Bricks, potholes, obstacles, etc.) 

What’s Aquaplaning? 

It only takes 12 inch deep water to completely lift you and your vehicle from the surface of the road. Aquaplaning tends to happen when you’re at a high speed, where water can build in front of the tyre and lift your tyre from the road surface. This makes your car unresponsive to steering as you have lost contact with the road. This is very dangerous and should be avoided. 

Aquaplaning Graphic
Aquaplaning graphic sourced from Uniroyal Tyres.

Tips for driving in the rain.

  • Don’t overlook wet leaves! They may seem pretty harmless, but your car can skid on wet leaves just like ice. 
  • Test your wipers – make sure they’re functioning properly before you start your journey. 
  • Drive on the highest section of road (if you can). 
  • Keep both hands on the wheel. 
@collingwoodinsurance Driving in the rain can make driving a little more difficult! Here are out top tips to stay safe in the rain 🌧️ #drivinginrain #learntodrive #uk #rain #drivinglessons #drive #learnerdriver #passingtest ♬ I Think I Like When It Rains – WILLIS

Is it safe to drive in hail stone? 

Hail stone can cause some challenges when driving and can also cause damage to your car. 
If you are caught driving in hailstone that is very heavy and harsh reduce your speed and aim to find somewhere sheltered to pull over. Heavy hail can cause damage to your car especially at high speeds! It could break your windows, scratch or damage your car. So slow down and find shelter if you feel like the weather is impacting your car. 
Similarly, to other weather conditions make sure you have clear visibility when you are driving too. Use your windscreen wipers to help you see and if they are not clearing quickly enough find somewhere safe to stop until the weather clears up. 

How to drive safely in thunderstorms? 

Heavy rains are one thing but what about when the rain turns into thunder and lightning? 
All the tips for heavy rains and wind also apply for thunderstorms as they often come with a lot of rainfall and wind! However, there are even more considerations that should be made then driving in thunderstorms. 
If there are any weather warnings for storms it is always best to stay inside! You risk internal and external damage to your vehicle if you are caught in a storm. 
If you do find yourself stuck driving in a thunderstorm it is recommended that you put all the windows up and stay in the vehicle. Most cars will pass the current through the vehicle and into the ground and should not harm the passengers inside. This is advised by the MET office, They do acknowledge that some cars with fabric roofs, metal interior handles or GPS can have more problems in thunderstorms. If your car has any of these featured, it may be best to find somewhere safe and get out of the car. 
There is also added hazards when you are stuck in a vehicle during a thunderstorm. There can be fallen powerlines which would be very dangerous to you and your car. If you do have to stop and waiting in your car, try to do so away from any potential hazards. 

How to drive safely in wind? 

If you are driving in severely windy weather, the best way to avoid accidents is to postpone your journey. Extreme wind can be unpredictable with flying debris, falling trees and trouble with handling your car. Wind can cause more cars on the road to swerve to avoid obstacles that can increase accidents. When stormy winds reach 60mph, it can be extremely dangerous and it’s best to avoid driving completely. 

It also makes it difficult to plan your journey effectively since things can change so quickly. You may plan your journey but when you get halfway there a tree has fallen on the road which can delay and cause problems. 

If you do have to travel in the wind, make sure you check for the safest route is by the following advice from local news sources. If you can, avoid routes that are particularly prone for intense wind and obstacles. 
High winds can get under a car and affect the braking and handling drastically. If you reduce your speed, you may reduce the effect the wind has on your car. Hold your steering wheel firmly but not too tight. Holding the wheel too tight can restrict your movement. So, keep to a strong grip so that you remain in full control but allow yourself to have a smooth range of motion. 

When it comes to overtaking, be extra careful, especially past high sided vehicles (these are vehicles over 2.9m), this is due to the gust from the side as you clear past. In general, you should allow more room between you and other road users, especially when you’re near cyclists, motorcyclists, lorries, trailers and buses as they are particularly susceptible to being moved by high winds. 

Tips for driving safely in wind. 

  • Make sure you park your car in a safe place – ideally somewhere with shelter. 
  • Try to avoid debris left on the road. 
  • Keep your speed down (safely & legally). 
  • Keep both hands on the wheel. 

How to drive safely in sun? 

The sun may not seem as though it would be dangerous to drive in however, there are some risks that you should be aware of! 
The sun can become a problem during not only hot summer days but on rainy and snowy days too! Sun can reflect on surface and can make it hard for you to see clearly. This can happen on the bright white snow or in puddles. If the sun is reflecting into your eyes and causing you problems, it is always good to keep a pair of sunglasses in your car. 

Keeping more space between you and other drivers will help keep you safer when you’re struggling to see because of the glare. If you do not have sunglasses with you, it may be safer to pull over until you can see properly. 

Another problem with driving in sunny weather is overheating. Being inside the car on a hot day can cause the vehicle to become very hot. This can be very distracting and uncomfortable to drive in. Make sure you are opening your windows and using your aircon to help with the heat. Also pack a cold bottle of water to keep you hydrated!

Young male and female in car with sun shining through window

If it is a hot day try to avoid parking in the sun and opt for shaded or enclosed areas. This can help with overheating as your seats will not absorb as much heat. 
This is especially true if you are travelling with pets. Leaving pets in a hot car puts the welfare of your animal in danger which could cause illness or death. Make sure to keep a window open for pets in the car or leave them at home on hot days. 


 There are a lot of extra considerations that you should make if you are driving in any weather conditions. The type of weather you are driving in can have and overall effect on how your car handles and your safety when driving. Always be well prepared to tackle the weather and take precautions to postpone a drive if necessary! 
When you are learning to driver you want to get in as much practice as possible. Practice driving in different weather conditions when safe to do so, helps you be prepared for after you pass your test. 
Collingwood Learner Driver insurance has no curfews so you can practice at a time that suits you! 

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