Not surprisingly, for many motorists in Britain, the generally mild weather means that every seriously cold winter we forget much of the essentials about driving in tougher conditions. For this reason it's all the more important for us to make sure we've remembered all of the useful tips and provisions that ensure safe and hassle-free driving in the coldest weather. This check-list should do as a good start: 1: Tyre Safety – Making sure that your winter tyres are serviceable is vital to all aspects of driving in winter weather. It's not just black ice or deep snow that can be problematic; even above freezing, low temperatures on roads mean increased braking times, can cause problems in the car's handling. They cannot always be distinguished from clear roads from sight alone. A checked set of winter tyres means driving with confidence and no sudden reactions when the road surface changes.

2: Equipment – Army rations and bivvy-bags might be a little on the survivalist side, but there's no harm in packing some practical 'emergency' equipment to be readily at hand to make unforeseen circumstances that little bit easier. The consensus seems to be: a sturdy winter coat, boots or wellingtons, a first aid kit, a torch, scraper and de-icer, jump leads and last of all, a shovel. Think about anything else you might add that suits the type of roads you'll generally be driving around.

3: Battery – If your battery is unreliable and you've been humouring its poor performance, winter is the time when it is most likely to give up on you. As we tend to reduce the range of our car journeys during most of winter, we also run the risk of compromising the battery as we do so. Most batteries should be replaced every two to four years. Used car dealers may not give you this information. If you're thinking of replacing a battery either before winter or afterwards, the safest investment is to opt to get it changed before the cold comes in.

4: Bodywork and Windshield – A little extra work out in the cold preparing your car for the drive is invaluable to the safety of the drive. Removing ice and snow from the roof prevents it slipping down mid-journey. Scouring frozen mud and ice from light housings helps keep the car visible in foggy conditions. Inside, combine the heater and the air-con to reduce misted windows and the windshield – it works quicker and is more effective.

5: Preparation – Just a few minutes tuning into a traffic radio report before your journey can be a great benefit to your journey. Knowing the situation beforehand, you can bypass unnecessary routes and be mindful of unavoidable stretches of your journey where difficulties could arise. Whenever concentration affords it, update yourself regularly about the changing conditions from your car radio.