Driving around the Peak District National Park in winter is great, when the roads are clear and safe. During the winter months Flash, being Britain’s highest village, does get its fair share of snow. Winter driving in Peak District can be a bit of a challenge at times, so we’ve put the following advice together. If in doubt, leave the car at home and go for a walk in the snow. Walking around Peak District in winter is exhilarating!
Plan your journey
Before you set off, plan your journey carefully. Consider areas that are going to be exposed to the elements, and perhaps prone to flooding or ice. Keep up to date with local weather to ensure you aren’t caught out. By the snowy nature of the “High Peak”, traffic police do monitor roads in the area to ensure motorists are complying with the law. Deice and demist ALL windows.
It’s a good idea to carry a lock deicer with you to clear your lock. If your locks do get frozen, try warming the key or spraying deicer or an oil-based lubricant into the lock.
Check your screenwash
Use a good quality screenwash that protects down to at least -35 to prevent the water from freezing. If you don’t, your windscreen wipers could be rendered useless in extreme conditions.
Check your tyres
Check tyres for adequate tread. Poor tyres will not grip when driving on snow and ice. If you live in an area where snow is common it is recommended changing to winter tyres with deeper tread. If conditions are really bad you might want to consider the use of snow socks or even snow chains.
Pack for the worst
Be prepared for every eventuality by ensuring that your car is equipped with the following: demisting pad, torch , a hi-vis vest to make you visible if you break down, a blanket to keep you warm, some food, a drink, spare screenwash, deicer, ice scraper, blanket, shovel, phone charger, map, a first aid kit, a warning triangle, some jump leads, a spade and a square of carpet that you can use to put under your drive wheels should you get stuck in the snow. Alternatively, you can buy RAC Recovery Track which will get you out of the snow as well as mud and sand.
The most important thing to take with you before driving in snow is a charged mobile phone with the phone number of your breakdown provider stored in it so you can always call for help.
Keep your car clean
The salt used to deice roads can cause corrosion to your car over time, so it’s worth making a point of cleaning it regularly throughout the winter months.
How to tackle driving in the snow
- Accelerate gently, use low revs and change up to a higher gear as quickly as possible
- Move off in second gear as this will help reduce wheel slip – some cars have a winter mode, which does the same job
- Get your speed right and maintain safe stopping distances between you and the car in front, leaving as much as 10 times the normal recommended gap
- Prepare for an uphill by leaving plenty of room in front so you can maintain a constant speed without the need for changing gear
- Use a low gear for going downhill and try to avoid braking unless necessary, make sure you leave plenty of space between you and the car in front
- If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it. For example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes
- When driving in heavy snow, make sure that you use your dipped headlights. Relying on daytime running lights is not enough, because they don’t always put lights on the back of your car.
- If visibility drops below a 100m, put your fog lights on. But remember to turn them off when the visibility improves.
- If the road has not been gritted, be wary of driving in the wheeltracks or other vehicles as compressed snow is likely to be more icy than fresh snow
- Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer
- Finally, it’s important to think about the environment that you’re driving in, especially microclimates that might appear on the road. These are areas that perhaps the sun hasn’t got to, which could stay icy when the rest of the road has thawed. Bridges are a good example. They’re normally the first to freeze and the last to thaw. So be aware of that when you’re driving in open spaces.