Winter Defensive Driving Tips for the Whole Family

You may have made it safely past your holiday road trip, but winter driving for the sake of daily errands, activities and pickups are dangerous, too. Backroads aren’t always as well-maintained as main roads, and it’s easy to get lax about driving when you’re in your own familiar hometown.

Winter driving

Winter weather brings with it fog, freezing rain, snow and sleet, and just because the holidays are behind us, that doesn’t mean the bad weather is too. The winter season doesn’t technically start until December 21, and it runs all the way through March 20.

The following winter defensive driving tips will help you and everyone in the family stay as safe as possible.

Guidelines for Everyone

The following guidelines apply to every type of driver, from newbies to parents of little ones, to the elderly:

  • When the weather is nasty, it’s tempting to look at what’s happening directly in front of you. It’s safer to look farther down the road, though, so that you have extra time to respond to what’s coming.
  • Don’t try to get up to the speed limit if conditions are bad. The speed limit is the maximum amount of speed you can drive in good In the winter when conditions are less than perfect, it’s better to go slower. “Go slower” is a great all-around rule for winter driving too. Everything should be done more slowly, from driving straight to taking turns and braking.
  • Start braking early on icy or wet roads. Your car will take a longer time to stop in slick conditions. If you slam on your brakes, your car could skid and you could lose control, even if you have anti-lock brakes or stability control.
  • When trying to get up a hill during the winter, your first idea will be to floor it in order to cut through the wintry conditions. This can make your wheels spin, though, which will work against you. Instead, gain momentum when you’re still on flat ground, then let that carry you up the hill as you accelerate normally. Reduce your speed as you near the top, then go down the hill as slowly as you can.
  • Have your eyesight checked regularly. Our eyesight naturally deteriorates with age and night time driving can become quite difficult. If you don’t want to wear glasses you could try switching to lenses, check contact lenses uk for help with purchasing them.

Parents (or Any Caretaker) With Little Ones

Parents of little ones, or anybody who’s going to have kids in their car, from aunts and uncles to babysitters and nannies, should know the following winter driving tips:

  • If you have a new car that you haven’t driven in the winter yet, get used to it without the kids in the car. Head to an empty parking lot in the early morning or evening, when there aren’t many other cars around, to practice.
  • Don’t bundle up children before buckling them in. Yes, you want them to be warm when the weather is cold, but all that bulk shouldn’t be under their car seat harness or seat belt because it will make the harness too loose should you get into a crash. Instead, remove the child’s coat, buckle them in and then tuck a blanket over them or put their coat on backwards.

Grandparents and Elderly Drivers

Older drivers have to balance their current health conditions with driving safety. Here are a couple of tips for your family’s older generation:

  • If you’re starting to feel like the older members of your family just don’t drive the way they used to, start a conversation about sharing driving duties and more, especially if they regularly pick your kids up from school or drive them to appointments.
  • For grandparents or elderly members of your family who have declining eyesight, encourage them to only drive during the daytime. Visibility goes down around dusk, making it harder to see winter hazards. Once the sun’s gone down, it’s best for older drivers to ask a friend or family member for a ride.
  • People over the age of 50 may struggle with dry eye, which can impact driving safety. Lubricating drops, swapping contact lenses for glasses or wearing sunglasses are just a few of the ways to treat dry eye.

Teenagers and First-Time Winter Drivers

Teens and inexperienced drivers are used to the reliable grip of clear roads, which leaves them unprepared for the slippery conditions they’re about to encounter.

  • Teens should know not to take off before their car is cleared of snow and ice or before it’s warmed up enough to defog the windshield. Driving away too early can mean poor visibility through the windshield, which is extremely dangerous. Consider having a remote starter installed — they can start the car from inside the house and let it warm up for a couple of minutes before getting in.
  • Go out with your teen the first few times they drive in the winter. If they’re hesitant to have mum or dad in the car, make it fun — tell them you’re going shopping or out for lunch so that it doesn’t feel like strictly a lesson.
  • Encourage them to not use their phone while driving. While this is a good rule of thumb throughout the rest of the year, it’s even more important during the winter, when slick roads make reaction time that much more important. The DMV has a list of apps that help combat distracted driving.
  • A smartphone isn’t the only thing that can cause distractions. Marijuana use before driving is a major problem. Since many teens don’t understand the risks of driving after using marijuana, educate them before you hand over the keys.

One More Thought

As the winter turns into spring, you still have to keep an eye out for ice. Warmer air and more sunshine don’t mean that winter road hazards are automatically gone, and even minor accidents can have major consequences. You should keep an eye on the weather warnings throughout the week, and look out for grit salt bins so you can use these when the temperatures are due to drop during the night. Continue driving defensively as you do during the winter until you’re well into the spring.

Winter defensive driving tips for the whole family


  • franbackwithabump

    January 14 at 9:41 am

    Great tips and so many people ought to take note instead of driving everywhere at the same speed regardless of the weather!! Don’t get me started on bad drivers!!!

    1. IamMummyMatters

      January 14 at 1:48 pm

      It’s scary isn’t it, some people drive with complete abandonment and don’t consider the consequences for them or others x

  • Sarah Dee

    January 14 at 10:02 am

    These are great tips. Who knows we may get some snow soon? Driving in cold conditions really does scare me!

    1. IamMummyMatters

      January 14 at 1:49 pm

      Yes I have come a cropper more times than I care to remember in the snow, now I just walk x

  • Vicky

    January 15 at 9:36 am

    Very important tips you’ve mentioned! My mum always tells me to make sure I have essentials in my car. Including some water, a spare jacket, blanket, torch and umbrella! Thanks for sharing!

    Victoria |

    1. IamMummyMatters

      January 15 at 1:20 pm

      Your Mum sounds just like my Mum, even though I am now 42 she still checks to make sure I am carrying the essentials when driving x

    2. IamMummyMatters

      January 22 at 2:12 pm

      Same here, even at 42 my Mum still runs me through my checklist ‘just in case’ x

  • Anosa

    January 15 at 10:14 am

    These are great tips, I have been driving for a few years now and found these useful, I don’t like driving in winter but it has to be done

    1. IamMummyMatters

      January 15 at 1:22 pm

      Driving in winter can be frightening but providing you to take precaution and drive carefully you should be fine x

    2. IamMummyMatters

      January 22 at 2:13 pm

      Yes unfortunately its one of those things but being prepared gives you a little more confidence x

  • Wendy

    January 16 at 7:45 pm

    Really useful post here. I hate driving in bad weather conditions, especially heavy rain. If it’s snowing then I just don’t drive at all, I know lots of people do but I don’t think it’s worth the risk xx

    1. IamMummyMatters

      January 17 at 9:31 pm

      I am the same as you, I don’t see the point in taking the risk easier. Especially where my children are concerned x

  • Nina Paul

    January 24 at 12:34 pm

    Thanks for sharing this article, it sure will help a lot of people like me.

    1. Sabina Green

      January 24 at 6:59 pm

      You’re welcome, I am pleased you have found it useful.

    2. Sabina Green

      February 2 at 12:23 pm

      I am pleased you have found the article helpful.

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