Driving in adverse weather

On this page is our safety advice for driving in adverse weather conditions:

Heavy rain/floods

Driving in wet conditions can be hazardous, but you have a better chance of staying safe if you prepare for wet weather.

Drivers can be caught out during heavy downpours, as even the most modern road surface is susceptible to standing water. This creates a potential aquaplaning hazard as well as significantly reducing visibility.

Take it easy through standing water and if the steering does become unresponsive due to the rain, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually.

  • Don't try driving through fast-moving water such as at a flooded bridge approach – your car could easily be swept away.

  • Watch out for standing water, trying to avoid it if you can, and adjust your speed to the conditions.

  • Driving fast through standing water is dangerous - tyres lose contact with the road and you lose steering control in what's known as 'aquaplaning'.  If you do experience aquaplaning, hold the steering wheel lightly and lift off the throttle until the tyres regain grip.

  • Driving fast through standing water can cause expensive damage. The air intake on many cars is low down at the front of the engine bay and it only takes a small quantity of water sucked into the engine to cause serious damage. All engines are affected but turbo-charged and diesel engines are most vulnerable.

  • As you drive slowly through standing water, use a low gear so the engine revs are higher; water in the exhaust could otherwise damage the catalytic convertor.

If you break down in heavy rain don't prop the bonnet open while you wait for the patrol to arrive. The engine will be more difficult to start again if the electrics are rain-soaked.

High winds

High wind may cause difficult driving conditions, especially to high-sided vehicles negotiating the Thelwall Viaduct on the M6 or Barton Bridge on the M60.

Drivers of high-sided vehicles, caravans and motorbikes are advised to take extra care when travelling due to the increased risk of vehicles being blown over. Sudden gusts can catch out even the most experienced driver. Expect sudden gusts at any time but particularly on open stretches of road, when passing bridges or gaps in hedges or when overtaking high-sided vehicles.

Seasonal Weather Conditions:


In snow or icy conditions, it will take longer to stop - always drive at a speed appropriate for the conditions.

In winter it's even more important to check your vehicle is well maintained and serviced. Keep the lights, windows and mirrors clean and free from ice and snow

Make sure wipers and lights are in good working order. When driving at sunset or sunrise, dazzle can be a problem - ensure that you keep your windscreen clean and free from smears which will be enhanced by low sun.

Add anti-freeze to the radiator and winter additive to the windscreen washer bottles.

Check that tyres have plenty of tread depth and are maintained at the correct pressure - snowy conditions require good grip!

Pack a snow/ice scraper, de-icer, snow shovel, hat, gloves, boots, a torch, bottle of water and a first aid kit. For longer journeys, you should take blankets, a snack and a flask of warm drink in case you breakdown and need to wait for assistance. Recovery companies can be extremely busy at this time of year.

Fog makes the road wet and slippery so don't leave it too late to turn on your lights - see and be seen! Ensure your tyres and brakes are in good order. Your vehicle will take much longer to stop on a wet surface, particularly one covered with wet leaves. So, adjust your speed and leave a longer following distance so that you are always able to stop in the distance seen to be clear. Ensure wipers, heater and demisters are in excellent order too.

Watch out for children walking and cycling to and from school. It may be difficult to see them because of low light levels. During school arrival and departure times there is usually a large number of children crossing the road or riding bikes.


Summer and high temperatures is peak motorbike and cycle season so always look out for motorbikes and cyclists.

Also, remember to get your eyes tested every two years and wear glasses or lenses at the wheel if needed.

Beware of the glare - driving in summer can mean bright sun and tired eyes. Keep your windscreen clean, use your sun visor and wear sunglasses if it helps.

Please visit our vehicle checks section for tips on preparing for all the above conditions and tyre safety checks.

Vehicle checks

Last updated: Friday, 16 February 2024