Coping with bad weather

There is no law stopping you from clearing ice and snow. If an accident happened, it is highly unlikely that you would be sued. Just be careful and use your common sense. Make sure you do not make the pavement more dangerous!

The Department for Transport have published guidance on clearing ice and snow, which includes:

  • start early. It is much easier to clear fresh snow compared to compacted snow and ice that people have walked on.
  • do not use hot water. It will melt the snow, but may replace it with dangerous black ice.
  • be a good neighbour. Some people may be unable to clear snow and ice themselves.
  • think where you will put the snow you clear. Make sure it does not block paths or places where melted snow and ice can drain.
  • make a path down the middle of the area you are clearing. You will have somewhere safer to walk while you work.
  • spread salt on the area you have cleared. It will help stop ice forming. Avoid putting salt on plants or grass as they may be damaged.
  • pay lots of care to steps and slopes.
  • use the sun to help you. Removing the top layer of snow will allow the sun to melt any ice underneath. You will need to cover ice with salt to stop it refreezing overnight.
  • if there is no salt available, use sand or ash.

Advice for motorists

  • Ask yourself if your journey is absolutely necessary.
  • Drive more slowly both on salted and untreated roads.
  • Use dipped headlights.
  • Drive in the highest gear possible to avoid wheel spin.
  • Keep well away from the car in front.
  • Always be well prepared. Take extra clothing food and drinks particularly on longer journeys. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged.

What to do if you get stuck

  • Stay with your vehicle until help arrives if at all possible.
  • If you have to leave your vehicle stay well away from the roadside.
  • Make yourself and your vehicle visible to other motorists.
  • Try to position your vehicle so that emergency service vehicles and winter service vehicles can pass.
  • Contact the police if your only option is to abandon your vehicle.

Facts and figures

  • 80% of all salt spreading operations take place at 5am - 8am and 6pm - 9pm.
  • Ice is most likely to occur between 6am and 8am.
  • Approximately 9,000 tonnes of salt are spread during the average winter.
  • The gritters treat the roads approximately 65 times during an average winter.

See also