winter travel safety guide

The majority of the UK has been battered yet again by snow storms over the last few days, and as usual this presents the problem of how best to travel around safely. With the roads heavily clogged and often impassable due to heavy snow and ice, the trains facing long delays and planes not even getting off the ground, those wanting to travel face hours of stress and misery.
Furthermore, as councils concentrate on gritting only the main roads and routes, and with air temperatures rarely getting above freezing, even walking a short distance on a pavement is a treacherous task. With more wintery weather forecast for at least a couple of weeks, we have come up with an essential safety guide to help you tackle the conditions that you are likely to face when you step out of your door, as well as advice for making a personal injury compensation claim in the event you have an accident.
Walking on the Ice and Snow
When it snows heavily and schools close, news features are full of children playing out in the snow, building snowmen and having a good time. But for many, particularly the elderly and frail, the snow and ice presents a real challenge, even if it is just getting down to the local shop to buy their daily groceries, or getting to an important medical appointment.
Pavements are rarely gritted by councils and therefore if snow has fallen, this will freeze hard overnight making it incredibly slippery. Even more dangerous is black ice, which is invisible to the eye, making it especially precarious.
If you do need to venture into the snow for any reason, take the following precautions:
- Wear plenty of layers to keep you warm. Heat escapes from your head so a hat will keep you insulated even better. Don’t forget gloves and a scarf as well as warm socks. - Wear shoes with good grip, preferably walking boots. This will help give you maximum grip on the snow and ice. Avoid flat soles and heels as you are far more likely to slip over. - Try to walk on fresh, softer snow rather than harder, compacted snow. Softer snow on the ground will be far easier to walk on and will give you better traction. - Take smaller steps than normal and walk using your whole foot, placing your heel down first. Always look at where you are treading. - Tell someone that you have gone out, where you are going and how long you plan to be gone for. Take a fully charged mobile phone and make sure someone knows the number for it.
Taking to the Roads in Snowy/Icy Conditions
Worryingly, a large number of motorists don’t know how best to drive when met with snow and ice as this is not covered in our standard Driving Test in the UK. Furthermore, they are not equipped to deal with the situation if they get stuck in difficult conditions.
In extreme weather such as what we have seen recently, the best advice is to stay off the road completely unless you absolutely have to travel. Often, just driving can make the roads worse, as snow turns to icy slush with heavy traffic, long tailbacks are caused, and emergency service crews find it increasingly difficult to get through in the limited space they have.
Many have no choice about making essential journeys in their cars. If you absolutely have to travel, it is important to take the following precautions:
Before you leave
- Clear your windows of all snow and ice to maximise your visibility. Make sure you have plenty of screen wash to keep it clear on longer trips. - Keep your car’s petrol tank full with the view that you may get stuck in very long traffic queues. - Keep warm clothes, blankets, food and water, as well as high visibility clothing inside the car in case the snow prevents you from travelling any further. - Tell someone where you will be and make sure you take out a fully charged mobile phone.
Snow driving tips
- Drive smoothly, using light acceleration, braking and steering movements. Travel in as high a gear as possible when moving off and travelling slowly to prevent wheel-spin. - On downhill sections stay in as low a gear as possible so engine braking can slow you down. This is often more reliable that using your brake pedal, which can cause your wheels to lock. - If you skid do not attempt to brake; instead steer into the direction of the skid whilst gently releasing the accelerator pedal. - Always drive slowly and carefully in particularly cold conditions; even if the road doesn’t look icy there may be black ice on the road’s surface. - Leave plenty of distance between you and the car in front. The usual 2 second gap should be changed to at least a 10 second gap in icy conditions. - Leave with plenty of time and expect to be held up. Stick to main roads and don’t be surprised if you need to follow a different route to get to your destination.
Compensation Claim Advice - What to do if you have an Accident
It’s unfortunate that snowy conditions can lead to an accident, whether that be slipping on icy pavements, or having an accident in the car on snowy roads. However, most people don’t know what to do if they suffer an accident in these circumstances, and how to go about making a claim for car accident compensation or work accident compensation.
Of course what steps to take depend on the circumstances of your accident and any injuries you suffer. In the majority of cases, using your mobile phone to contact someone close by should be the first thing you do if you are alone.
Contacting the police after a road accident is something you may need to consider, and is legally necessary in the case of more serious accidents. If your accident has not been your fault, contacting the police can be a benefit to making any claims for compensation as they will record all of the details of your accident and keep them on file.
Similarly, if your injuries are stated on your medical records, our compensation claim solicitors can use these as evidence to support your claim. However, in extreme conditions it is important not to contact the emergency services unless you really have to, as they themselves will be facing tricky conditions and a higher volume of calls than normal.
It is important to keep in mind that if you are injured in an accident that wasn’t your fault, even in snowy and icy conditions, you may be eligible to make a claim for compensation against the party at fault.

Injuries Direct has been helping innocent victims make compensation claims for their injuries since 1998. While many companies have been and gone over the last decade, Injuries Direct has continued to go from strength to strength by delivering a quality personal injury compensation service to its customers.