Driving in severe weather conditions
Met Office alerts
Keep a close eye on weather information specific to your journey by using the Met Office website. The Met Office issue warnings for rain, snow, wind, fog and ice based on the likelihood and potential impact of conditions. you can sign up for a myStirling account and subscribe to the Free alerts and you will get the Met Office alerts directly to your phone or email.
Each warning the Met Office issues has a colour:
- Red (take action)
- Amber (be prepared)
- Yellow (be aware)
Tips and advice on staying safe this winter from Police Scotland
- Plan ahead. Check the forecast, road conditions and consider alternative routes. Allow extra time for your journey and check your planned route is free from delays.
- Take extra care check brakes, tyres, lights, batteries, windscreens and wiper blades are in good condition and well maintained. In addition, washer bottles need to contain an anti-freeze solution to stop water from freezing.
- Make sure your windscreen is properly demisted and clear of snow and ice before you drive. Low sun can make it difficult to see and a dirty, greasy or damage windscreen can make this worse.
- Lights including reflectors must be kept clean and clear and be in good working order. This includes registration plate lights. Cyclists must have white front and rear red lights lit at night. Be seen and be safe.
- In wet weather stopping distances will be at least double those required for stopping on dry roads. Aquaplaning can be a frightening experience. This is where a wedge of water builds up between the front tyres and the road surface. The safest solution is to remove the pressure from the accelerator, allowing the vehicle to lose speed and the tyres to regain their grip.
- Keep well back from the road user in front in icy or snowy weather. Stopping distances can be ten times greater. When the roads are icy, drive at slow speed in as high a gear as possible; accelerate and brake very gently
- When driving in fog use dipped headlights so other drivers can see you. Fog lights can only be used when visibility is seriously reduced to less than 100 metres but they must be switched off if visibility improves. Be prepared for a bank of fog or drifting patchy fog ahead. Even if it seems to be clearing, you can suddenly find yourself in thick fog.
- Avoid driving in icy or snowy conditions unless your journey is essential. If you do you, we recommend you take an emergency kit of: scraper, de-icer, torch, first aid kit, jump leads, shovel, warm drink and emergency food in case you get stuck or break down.
- Leave someone your contact details and expected arrival and return times.
Keep an emergency kit in the car:
- ice scraper and de-icer
- a working torch with spare batteries
- warm clothes, jacket and a blanket
- a pair of boots or good walking shoes
- a first-aid kit
- a set of battery jump leads
- a shovel for snow and sandbag in the boot if possible
- food and a warm drink in a flask
- sunglasses in the glove box to help you see in low sun
- make sure your mobile phone is charged fully
- a map or sat nav for any unplanned diversions
See also Transport Scotland for information on driving in bad weather