winter driving

Millions of motorists at risk of breaking the law this winter

  • New research reveals 40% of Brits are unaware that driving with snow on the roof can put them at risk of a penalty
  • 44% of drivers do not realise that splashing a pedestrian with rainwater is illegal
  • Go.Compare shares winter driving tips for keeping your car legal in the colder months

With the cold weather setting in and the Met Office predicting heavy rainfall for the coming weeks, Go.Compare’s car insurance experts are warning drivers about a number of winter driving practices that they may not realise are illegal.

The warning comes as new research from Go.Compare car insurance shows that when it comes to winter driving, there are a number of conditions caused by bad weather that motorists do not realise are against the law, such as driving with snow on the roof or with a dirty number plate.

The survey, which asked almost 2000 motorists about driving in the cold weather, found that 40% of people were not aware that having snow on the roof can lead to a penalty.

Similarly, splashing pedestrians with rainwater, although most might think is simply impolite, is actually a criminal offence for exhibiting careless or inconsiderate behaviour while on the road – however, nearly half of us (44%) do not realise that splashing a pedestrian in the rain is breaking the law. And those aged 18-24 admitted to most often splashing pedestrians, with 17% saying they always or frequently did so.

Motorists were slightly more clued-up on driving with a dirty number plate, with one in five respondents (19%) saying they were either “not sure” or believed this to be legal.

Ryan Fulthorpe, car insurance expert at Go.Compare said, “Driving in the winter can be stressful, particularly if there’s ice on the roads or flooding after a big downpour. And when you’re just thinking about getting from A to B safely, it’s often easy to forget things like wiping down the number plate or clearing snow from the roof.

“However, as well as being illegal, they could also risk invalidating your insurance should you get into any scrapes. In most cases, your insurer is unlikely pay out if you have been driving illegally or recklessly, and if you were to have an accident as a result of not clearing your roof, for example, it could be deemed that you had been irresponsible.

“So, it’s always best to be safe and check your vehicle is in top condition before you set off anywhere in the cold weather. Similarly, always make sure to check you have appropriate cover in place should you break down or have an accident in poor conditions – you never know when you may need it.”

Go.Compare shares some top tips to keep your car safe and legal this winter:

  1. Check your cover

Make sure your car's serviced and in a good state of repair before winter begins, and check your breakdown policy - is it still valid and up-to-date?

  1. Keep the windows clean

Salt on the road can dirty your car quickly. Keep your washer fluid topped up and store some in the car for quickly accessible water. Extra de-icer and antifreeze is a good idea too. If you find that your windscreen wipers are smearing your screen when they're used, the blades need to be changed, or at least readjusted.

  1. Light up the way

You’ll need your lights more than at any other time of the year, so make sure they're working properly. If not, you're risking the safety of you and other drivers and could get pulled over by the police and fined. Double check you know how to find the fog lights quickly too.

  1. Keep an eye on the tyres

Make sure your tyres have at least the legal tread limit - 1.6mm for cars, but at least 3mm is recommended in wet weather - and that they're inflated to the level specified in your car's handbook.

  1. Organise an emergency kit to keep in the car

While not strictly about legality, it’s important to be ready just in case you do get stuck somewhere. Things like a blanket, water, long shelf-life food stuffs, a small spade – items that will keep you warm and comfortable while you wait for assistance. Store a torch and first aid kit in your boot throughout the year, too – as well as spare batteries!

For further advice on driving safely in the cold weather, visit Go.Compare’s Winter driving guide -

- Ends –

Contact Information

Rosie Johns

Notes to editors

Notes to editors

*On 5th-8th August 2022, a survey of 2079 randomly selected Great British adults was executed by Maru/Blue. For comparison purposes, a probability sample of this size has an estimated margin of error (which measures sampling variability) of +/- 2.1%. The results have been weighted by age, gender, region and social grade to match the population, according to Census data. This is to ensure the sample is representative of the entire adult population of Great Britain. Discrepancies in or between totals are due to rounding.  

**According to NHS UK: 

For further information please contact:

Lynsey Walden – 

Kath Chadwick –

Or you can call 02920 020360.

Keep up-to-date with GoCompare on Twitter; @Go.Compare 

Notes to editors

About Go.Compare

Go.Compare is a comparison website that enables people to compare the costs and features of a wide variety of insurance policies, financial products and energy tariffs.

It does not charge people to use its services and does not accept advertising or sponsored listings, so all product comparisons are unbiased. Go.Compare makes its money through fees paid by the providers of products that appear on its various comparison services when a customer buys through the site.

When it launched in 2006, it was the first comparison site to focus on displaying policy details rather than just listing prices, with the aim of helping people to make better-informed decisions when buying their insurance. It is this approach to comparing products that secured the company an invitation to join the British Insurance Brokers’ Association (BIBA) in 2008, and it is still the only comparison site to be a member of this organisation.

Go.Compare has remained dedicated to helping people choose the most appropriate products rather than just the cheapest and works with Defaqto, the independent financial researcher, to integrate additional policy information into a number of its insurance comparison services. This allows people to compare up to an extra 30 features of cover. 

Go.Compare is part of Future Plc and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (FCA). 

More information can be found here or here