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Stopping distances in winter

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It's no shock that stopping distances are significantly impacted in colder months. Read on to find out how you can minimise your risk of an accident when driving on wet and icy roads this winter.

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It's no shock that stopping distances are significantly impacted in colder months. Read on to find out how you can minimise your risk of an accident when driving on wet and icy roads this winter.

Choose the right tyres

Choosing the right tyres can mean the difference between stopping safely and having an accident. The tread on summer tyres begins to harden when the temperature drops below 7°C, which reduces the tyre's ability to grip the road. For example, driving with summer tyres at only 20mph on icy roads can increase your stopping distance by up to 37 feet:

How driving conditions affect stopping distances

Modern winter tyres feature a much softer compound, so they remain flexible despite the freezing temperatures and tough road conditions.

It's not just the weather that can affect how quickly you're able to stop, either. Car, road and even driver condition all play a role.

Travelling abroad this winter?

In some parts of Europe, the benefits of winter tyres are so clearly recognised that winter tyres are required by law. If you plan to drive your car on foreign soil, we suggest checking the legal requirements before you set off.

Monitor your tyres

Tyre tread depth should be checked regularly as part of good vehicle maintenance, no matter the time of year. Tyres with a tread depth below 1.6mm are illegal, and can land you with a fine of up to 10,000, as well as points on your licence. In winter, we recommend changing tyres at 3mm for your safety.

To check your tread depth, try the 20p test. Place a 20p into the tread groove of the tyre ' if the outer band of the 20p is hidden, then your tyres are safe and legal. However, if the outer band of the coin is visible, your tyre is completely worn and will need replacing immediately.

It's important to look out for abnormal tyre wear, too, as it could be a sign of a more serious problem. Leaving these potential issues unchecked could cause a risk to your safety, particularly on icy roads. Find out more about abnormal tyre wear.

Be vigilant

Driving fast and following the car in front too closely (known as tailgating) lessens the driver's chances of being able to stop in time to avoid hitting someone or something. This risk is significantly increased in winter, when roads are slippery and visibility is impaired. Keep a safe distance from other road users, and always pay close attention to the speed limit and road conditions.

Your view of the road is adversely affected as nights draw in and the weather deteriorates. Ensure that all of your bulbs are in good working order, and that screen wash (with a high resistance to freezing) is topped up. Always thoroughly clear your windscreen of ice and snow before setting off.

At Halfords Autocentres, we offer a FREE Winter Check, to help you avoid some of the most common winter car troubles. Book today.

Winter Tyres

Shop online

To remain safe on the roads this winter, choose quality winter tyres from Halfords Autocentres.

We stock a huge range of premium, mid-range and budget winter tyres - shop our selection today.


Free Tyre Check



Wheel Alignment



Wheel Balancing

£7.99 per tyre


Free Safety Check




from £35


Don't forget your wheel alignment - £29.99