The UK Rules
Driving in Adverse Weather Conditions

Driving in Bad Weather Highway Code

UK Highway Code rules and tips help you to drive safer in adverse weather conditions. This section explains how to drive in snow, fog, in wet and windy weather, and on slippery icy roads.

DRIVING SAFELY IN BAD WEATHER: The seasonal climate in Britain is 'unpredictable'.

Thus, all drivers should use extreme caution while driving in dangerous weather conditions.

Check out this overview of the official Highway Code road safety rules 226 to 237.

Rule 226: You MUST use vehicle headlights and lighting systems if the road visibility is severely reduced.

As a rule, it applies when you cannot see ahead for more than 100 meters (328 feet). If you use front or rear fog lights you MUST switch them off once the road visibility has improved.

Driving in Wet Weather

Rule 227: Typical driver stopping distances 'double' when driving a vehicle in wet weather. This statistic is a comparison to the distances required for stopping on dry roads.

The main reason for this is because the tyres have less grip on the road when the surface is wet. Thus, when you drive a vehicle in wet weather:

Driving in Icy and Snowy Conditions

Rule 228: Wintry weather can be particularly harsh for drivers in the United Kingdom. In most cases, the worst months for driving run from November to March.

Note: Check the local weather forecast for warnings of icy or snowy weather if you must drive in winter months.

Rule 229: Section 229 of the Highway Code explains the procedures to perform before driving in snow. Before setting off on a journey:

Rule 230: When driving a vehicle on ice or on snow:

Note: You can find out which roads your council will grit (e.g. in icy or snowy conditions) via the online service if you are living in England or Wales.

Rule 231: Drive with extreme caution and due diligence when the roads are icy. Avoid making sudden steering and braking actions. It can cause a sudden loss of control of the vehicle. Thus, when driving on ice you should:

Clearing Snow and Ice Yourself

As a general rule, no one can sue you for choosing to clear snow from a public road, pathway, steps, or a cycleway yourself.

The law is unlikely to consider you responsible (e.g. if someone gets injured) providing you clear it with 'reasonable' care. Nonetheless, you should be extra careful when clearing steps and steep pathways, and:

  • Try to clear snow and ice early in the day and avoid using water (it can refreeze into black ice).
  • Use salt where possible (or ash and sand), but not the salt stored inside salting bins. The council use it to keep main roads clear.

Driving in Windy Weather

Rule 232: As a rule, high-sided vehicles are most affected by windy weather. But, strong gusts of wind can also blow a car off course. This also includes motorcyclists, cyclists, and horse riders.

Open stretches of the highway, country roads, bridges, and gaps in roadside hedges are all exposed to strong crosswinds.

Wind Turbulence caused by Large Vehicles

Rule 233: Vehicles get affected by turbulence created by large vehicles in very windy conditions. Motorcyclists are especially susceptible to wind turbulence created by trucks and lorries. Thus, motorists should stay well back while a motorcycle overtakes a high-sided vehicle.

Highway Code Driving in Fog

Rule 234: Before driving into fog patches on the road, check your mirrors and slow down the vehicle. The word 'Fog' may show on roadside traffic signals even if your road is clear. Prepare for a bank of fog or drifts of patchy fog ahead. You can run into thick fog even when it seems to be clearing up.

Rule 235: If you drive a vehicle in fog or slight foggy conditions you should:

Rule 236: You MUST NOT use front or rear fog lights unless the road visibility is 'severely' reduced. Unnecessary use of your vehicle lights may dazzle other road users. Rear fog light usage can obscure vehicle brake lights. You MUST switch off vehicle fog lights when the visibility improves.

Law: Click here for the Road Vehicles Lighting Regulations 1989.

Highway Code Driving in Hot Conditions

Rule 237: Keep the vehicle well ventilated while driving in hot weather conditions. Ventilating the vehicle should help you to avoid drowsiness. Road surfaces often become soft after a hot spell of weather. If it rains after a dry spell, the roads can become very slippery.

A soft or slippery road surface may affect steering and braking procedures. Take extra care and slow down or stop (if necessary) if your eyes get dazzled by bright sunlight. This is especially pertinent the during winter time in the United Kingdom. These are the months when the sun crosses lower in the sky.

Driving in Adverse Weather Conditions in the United Kingdom