Winter Motoring Guide
12/03/2013 12:45 | By Steve Walker

Tips for drivers who get stuck in the snow

What to do if your car gets stuck in the snow this winter...

Stuck in the snow (© PA)

Every year we hear horror stories about drivers trapped on gridlocked motorways or remote country roads by snow or ice. Driving in snow is bad enough but getting stuck in the snow is a worst case scenario for many of us.

Here we've got the best tips and advice on how to stay safe and comfortable should you get stranded in your car by extreme winter weather.

Winter Motoring Guide

What to do if your car gets stuck in the snow: don't panic

Stuck in the snow (© PA)

When you're out in your car and the weather suddenly closes in, blinding you to the world beyond the end of your bonnet and sending your tyres slithering in a fruitless search for grip, it's tempting to adopt the default position - panic.

Don't do this. It sounds like the obvious advice but the advantages of not panicking and acting in a rational, sensible way cannot be overstated.

You'll be desperate not to stop, knowing that the more snow comes down, the slimmer your chances of escape become but you've got to weigh up the urge to keep going with the safety risks of doing so.

Driving on in limited visibility and worsening road conditions could be a recipe for disaster.

What to do if your car gets stuck in the snow: make the right decisions

Stuck in the snow (© PA)

If the weather's really bad, there's a good chance that at some point you'll make the decision to stop or you'll be forced to do so when the road becomes impassable due to snow, ice or other stranded vehicles. You're now officially stuck in the snow and it's doubly important to make the right decisions.

Much will depend on where you've actually come to a standstill. If you're only a few hundred yards from your front door, a friend's or the local pub's, there's a case for getting the car as far over to the side of the road as possible and walking the rest of the way.

If, however, there's any kind of significant distance to cover or any doubt at all over whether you'll be able to make it to civilisation, always stay with your car.

Remember that walking can be incredibly difficult in deep snow and that it's perilously easy to lose your bearings in blizzard conditions. It will also be far, far easier for help to find you if you stay inside your vehicle.

Abandoned cars also make life very difficult for those trying to keep the roads moving or assist people who are in trouble. Snow ploughs, gritting lorries and the emergency services are regularly thwarted by cars that have been left at the side of the road in snowy weather.

What to do if your car gets stuck in the snow: stay safe

Stuck in the snow (© PA)

With any luck, you'll have prepared for the worst before venturing out in winter weather conditions. Our winter carchecklist details the things you need for driving in snow including warm clothing, food, water and a mobile phone.

You can run the car's engine to keep warm but take a few precautions. It's vital that you make sure the car's exhaust isn't blocked by snow. If the engine's exhaust gases can't escape, there's a risk of toxic carbon monoxide building up inside the car.

Even if the exhaust is clear, remember that you don't know how long you'll be stuck in your car for. It might be necessary to conserve your fuel and it's best to run the engine for no more than 15 minutes each hour.

Don't wander too far from your car and it may be helpful to drape something brightly coloured over the vehicle so it can be more easily seen by the emergency services. Bear in mind that this may become covered by snow it might be necessary to clear it occasionally.

Let someone know where you are if possible. If you're on a motorway, use the emergency telephones to call for help as it will be easier to pinpoint your location.

For more tips on winter driving, winter tyres and winter cars, check out the MSN Cars winter motoring guide.

Driving in snow
Winter car checklist
Choosing a car for winter
Winter driver training
MSN Cars Winter Motoring Guide


18/12/2013 16:23
Wish more motorists would buy snowsocks for their vehicles. Also carry rubber maps [pattern side down] or the new plastic devices to put under the drive wheels. Washing line or rope through the wheels acts as a temporary snow chain to extract stuck vehicles, do not drive with this as it could wrap around the mechanicals of the car. Will get a car up a hill. Do not forget to buy a survival bag and foil blanket from outdoor shops as well. Look for tyres stamped with M[Mud]+S[Snow] as these grip better in winter. For rear drive vehicles carry a bag of sand as the weight will help to make the tyres grip better. Do not forget to buy a booster sticker arial for your mobile 'phone. Carry a wind up torch, lantern and radio. Also carry a Goretex Windstopper Cycling Gilet as it fits under standard clothes, cuts the chill and keeps the vital organs warm. On icey roads lift your foot off the accelerator, open the window, turn all noise off, when the steering wheel goes light and the tyres go silent you are on ice, do not brake, steer the car without using the accelerator pedal until the tyres get noisy again. Works on all vehicles, motorbikes and even bicycles too. Carry a foldong ex-military spade.
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