Take it ice and easy over win­ter

If you don’t want to have prob­lems in the worst driv­ing con­di­tions, no-one is go­ing to blame you if you just stay at home, Dave Moore says.

South Waikato News - - SPORT -

Avoid driv­ing in snow and other treach­er­ous con­di­tions, es­pe­cially if you have lit­tle or no ex­pe­ri­ence of them. Never set off when it’s snow­ing or if it’s fore­cast to do so, be­cause it will only get worse be­fore it gets bet­ter. The same goes for driv­ing in other bad con­di­tions like fog, heavy rain and ice.

Con­sider al­ter­na­tives such as walk­ing or us­ing pub­lic trans­port if avail­able. Speak to your em­ployer in ad­vance about work­ing from home when weather is very bad, es­pe­cially if you live in a ru­ral area prone to snow or floods.

But if you think you might just HAVE to drive, be pre­pared. Make sure your ve­hi­cle is well main­tained, and tyres have a tread depth of at least 3mm. Check forecasts and plan your route to avoid roads likely to be more risky and al­low plenty of time. Pack a win­ter driv­ing kit in case you’re caught out. This should in­clude: an ice scraper or de-icer; torch; cloths; a blan­ket and warm clothes; food and drink; firstaid kit; shovel; and a high-vis vest. Al­ways take a fully charged phone in case of emer­gen­cies, but don’t be tempted to use it when driv­ing. If you’re ven­tur­ing out in snow with­out win­ter tyres and a set of chains at the ready – ex­pect a few ‘‘We-toldyou-sos’’ when and if you get back!

En­sure your win­dows are clean and clear, and that you have all-round vis­i­bil­ity be­fore you set off. Also take the time to clear snow off the roof of your car. Use your dipped head­lights and avoid fog­lights – they can cre­ate danger­ous glare in snow, ice, rain and sleet.

But most im­por­tantly, you need to slow right down and in­crease the dis­tance be­hind the ve­hi­cle in front. In rain your stop­ping dis­tance dou­bles, so keep a four sec­ond gap at least. In snow or icy con­di­tions stop­ping dis­tances in­crease by as much as 10 times so you need to drop right back. Keep a care­ful look out for peo­ple on foot and cy­clists who may be harder to spot. Avoid abrupt brak­ing and hard ac­cel­er­a­tion and carry out ma­noeu­vres slowly, smoothly and with ex­tra care.

When driv­ing in snow, get your speed right – not too fast that you risk los­ing con­trol but not so slow that you risk los­ing mo­men­tum when it is needed

If you get your­self into a skid, the main thing to re­mem­ber is to take your foot off the ped­als and steer into the skid. Only use the brake if you can­not steer out of trou­ble.

Bends are a par­tic­u­lar prob­lem when icy – slow down be­fore you get to the bend, so that by the time you turn the steer­ing wheel you have al­ready lost enough speed.

On a down­hill slope get your speed low be­fore you start the de­scent, and do not let it build up – it is much eas­ier to keep it low than to try to slow down once things get slip­pery.

The most im­por­tant mes­sage is to err on the side of cau­tion and not drive if it is snow­ing, fore­cast to snow, or if there are other po­ten­tially deadly con­di­tions.

If the worst hap­pens:

Keep track of where you are. If you have to call for as­sis­tance, you need to be able to tell the break­down or emer­gency ser­vices your lo­ca­tion.

If you must leave your ve­hi­cle for any rea­son, find a safe place to stand away from the traf­fic flow. If you have just lost con­trol, the next driver could well do the same in the same place.

If you break down or have to pull over on a main road, it is al­ways bet­ter to leave your ve­hi­cle and stand a short dis­tance to the safe side of it. Don’t stand in front of it if at all pos­si­ble. Bal­anc­ing the risks of a col­li­sion and hy­pother­mia is some­thing that de­pends en­tirely on your sit­u­a­tion.


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