The Biggest Winter Driving Myths Revealed

1. It's illegal to drive in winter boots or wellies

FALSE

Rule 97 of the Highway Code says motorists should ensure 'clothing and footwear do not prevent you using the control in the correct manner'. It's down to motorists to make sure their footwork is up to the task of controlling a vehicle. 

You should be able to show that you have full control of your car in the event that you're stopped by police to check your footwear.

 

2. It's illegal to drive in winter boots or wellies

TRUE

Rule 229 of the Highway Code says 'Before you set off you MUST be able to see, so clear all snow and ice from all your windows.' If your windscreen is obstructed in any way, the police can fine you £60.

Whilst there is no law stating that it's illegal to drive with snow on your roof, if it falls onto your windscreen or into the path of another vehicle then you could be fined for driving without due consideration. It's not worth the risk so always make sure your car roof is clear before you move off! 

 

3. Insurers will always pay out if you crash on ice as it's not your fault

FALSE 

As a driver you're responsible for your actions behind the wheel. In cases where other road users aren't involved you could find yourself with an 'at fault' claim. If you're in an incident involving another driver, all the relevant circumstances will be considered as usual.

Remember, stopping distances could be up to 10 times longer on ice than under dry conditions. 

 

4. Leaving your car's engine running to warm it up or de-ice your windows invalidates the insurance if the vehicle is stolen

TRUE

You could be taking a massive risk by leaving your car unattended with the engine running, no matter what the reason. Most policies have a 'keys exclusion' clause, meaning that you won't be covered if your car is stolen while you leave the engine running. 

 

5. You could be fined for leaving the engine running to defrost your windscreen

TRUE

Leaving your car running while stationary is often referred to as engine idling. It's an offence under Rule 123 of The Highway Code and authorities have the power to ussue £20 fixed penalties for any contravention. 

However chances of being fined are slim. Police forces in England and Wales only enforced 494 penalties between 2015 and 2019. 

 

6. You must carry a winter emergency kit in your car by law

FALSE 

There's no law requiring drivers to carry any kind of emergency kit, although it's definitely wise as the weather turns colder. You may want to pack warm clothes, a de-icer and jump leads along with other helpful items. 

 

7. Your car insurance is invalid if you fit winter tyres

TRUE AND FALSE

Winter tyres have a deeper tread depth than standard tyres and are made from a softer compound that doesn't harden so much in cold weather. They're designed to disperse water and snow, allowing the rubber to move around - improving contact with the road. 

Although safer than standard tyres, some insurance providers may consider winter tyres to be a modification. Modifications should be declared and unfortunately, they usually increase the cost of your premium.