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Winter is an extremely dangerous time for all road users. With shorter days, ice and snow, visibility is significantly reduced and the car is out of control. In addition to the mandatory change to winter tires, it is worth remembering some of the most important and key rules for driving in the winter season.

It’s snowing, it’s snowing

When the temperature outside the window fluctuates between positive and negative, watch out for the so-called black ice. This is a phenomenon that is characterized by a layer of ice directly on the road surface. Although on the surface the road may seem safe, it is extremely easy to lose control of your vehicle in these conditions. Carefully observe the road and your car’s behavior to adjust your speed. Above all, take your foot off the gas, don’t brake, and try to stay on track.

Slush is equally dangerous. Melting snow may seem like a good sign and tempt you to drive more bravely, but it is a hazard that cannot be underestimated. If you drive too fast, the snow will get under the surface of your tires and they will lose contact with the surface. This is where good quality winter tires can help.

Tips

It’s important to use the accelerator carefully and skilfully. When starting out, excessive acceleration can cause the wheels to spin, which can not only immobilise you but also put other road users at risk. It’s best to start off with just the clutch or first gear

What’s more, avoid accelerating through corners; maintain a steady speed and you’ll avoid the risk of skidding. If possible, take corners with a larger curve than usual – less wheelspin means less risk of losing traction

It’s also worth mentioning engine braking, a technique that works well on slippery roads. Instead of manual braking, take your foot off the gas and shift gears in proportion to your falling speed. This is one of the best ways to maintain traction

One of the most important rules will be to adjust your speed to the road and weather conditions. This rule is especially important during the winter, when many road accidents are caused by overly brave driving. Also, keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front of you (especially on expressways and highways)

Driving uphill

  • accelerate as much as possible before attempting to negotiate an uphill gradient,
  • avoid sudden acceleration – keep to a steady speed,
  • all manoeuvres (braking, accelerating, changing gear) should be carried out smoothly.

Starting off on an uphill gradient

  • use the accelerator carefully,
  • release the clutch at the lowest possible speed,
  • avoid skidding.

Downhill

  • apply the engine brake with the correct gear reduction technique,
  • avoid idling,
  • release the clutch gently to even out the engine speed.

Driving on ice

Winter tires can’t protect you from all the dangers of icy roads and packed snow. On ice, the vehicle moves at a constant speed. When you lose traction, you lose the ability to accelerate, brake or turn. This is a rather frightening experience, but you should avoid sudden movements that could only make the situation worse.

Any maneuvers that contort your trajectory should be done gently and planned with acceleration, this will reduce the risk of the situation catching you by surprise. Reduce speed to the absolute minimum, which guarantees, at least partial control over the vehicle. Avoid sudden movements, excessive engine acceleration, or heavy braking. You are responsible not only for your vehicle but also for other road users.

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Cruz McCall

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