Winter can create many problems for drivers, from those who have just passed their test to seasoned motorists. When you combine darkness, sub-zero temperatures, and heavy rain or snow, drivers are faced with conditions that are less than optimal. In fact, drivers are 20% more likely to be in a car accident during the winter months*. 

However, the risk of having these accidents can be drastically reduced by watching out for specific hazards and taking some simple precautions. 

IAM RoadSmart, a charity dedicated to educating drivers and making the roads a safe place for all, has seen the effect ice, snow, rain, and darkness can have on driving conditions. 

Richard Gladman, IAM RoadSmart’s head of driving and riding standards, has put together a list of 11 tips to keep you driving safely in winter. He said:

“During winter, preparation is key to driving safely in harsh conditions. People can fall into the trap of relying on their new car systems to keep them safe, but it’s dangerous to depend on these entirely.  Allowing extra time, ensuring good visibility and carrying the right equipment is essential for all drivers in winter. If conditions are extreme, always remember that the best advice is not to travel at all.”  

Some hazards are well known, like black ice and potholes, but some are much more difficult to spot. Tyre tread-depth is incredibly important, and often ignored by car owners. You should always aim to keep the tread on your tyres above 2mm, and ideally at 3mm, but especially in winter. 

As well as this, some new drivers can be unaware that salt can make the windscreen, headlights, and the rear of your car dirty, which can result in less visibility. 

Specialised Covers has partnered with IAM RoadSmart to help raise awareness of some of the hazards we face when driving in harsh conditions.

Below, we have created an image of a winter road with 13 hazards – some obvious, some less so.

It takes the average person 32 seconds to spot all 13 hazards on the road, with some easier to spot than others. 

Winter Driving

Did you get them all? Here they are circled

  • Black Ice
  • Potholes
  • Snowy/sludgy conditions
  • A broken-down car with hazards lights on
  • Zebra crossing covered in ice and snow
  • People crossing the road in icy/snowy conditions and people on the pavements
  • Driving too close to another car in the snow
  • Windscreen dirty blocking view
  • Worn/eroded tyres
  • Wheels spinning in the snow (no traction)
  • Snow drifts/piles created from the snow plough only having covered one side


Katie Fishwick, Managing Director at Specialised Covers, said:

“At Specialised Covers, we know the importance of understanding what you’re faced with when driving in winter - ensuring we stay safe and our cars don’t receive any damage. Being aware of hazards is incredibly important, and we should all try and educate ourselves on what we are faced with, so we can enjoy driving in winter as much as we do in summer.” 

Remember to watch out for all these hazards when driving in winter, stay alert, and ensure you’re fully prepared for the conditions you’re set to face.