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Driving in snow: how to prepare

What the highway code says about staying safe in the snow when driving - and the fines if you ignore the rules

INSURERS have reported a record number of claims from drivers involved in accidents and breakdowns during last month’s snow - and the Transport Ministry is keen to avoid a repeat during the peak half-term travel period.

Although not compulsory, they recommend snow tyres on icy roads or in light snow, with chains at the ready for heavier snow.

Many departments will put up blue signs in bad weather, meaning chains must be used on at least two wheels, usually the front.

Drivers are advised to stock up on de-icing accessories and take warm clothes, gloves, blankets, water and food in case they break down - as well as keeping a fluorescent jacket in the car and a warning triangle in the boot.

What the highway code says

The use of chains is only allowed on snowy roads.

Overtaking a motorway gritter or any other service vehicle clearing the snow is strictly forbidden and could come with a driving ban of three years or more.

When it is snowing, fog lights can be used instead of or as well as normal dipped headlights. They can be be used alongside full headlights on rural roads provided they do not dazzle drivers coming in the other direction.

If you drive a vehicle that is more than seven metres long or weighs more than 3.5 tonnes, you must not use the third (or fourth) lane of a road. The punishment for this is much harsher in snowy or icy conditions than in good weather (a €1,500 fine instead of €35, and a possible driving ban of three years or more).

Big vehicles (as above) are banned from overtaking when there is snow or ice on at least part of a road (€135 fine).

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