Winter is here, and for those who revel in the colder months, the pull of the ski runs is simply too hard to ignore. But before you even think about organising your lift pass, you first need to make sure you know how to stay safe when driving in snow and ice.
Four tyres are the only things keeping you stuck to the road, and only four handprints-worth of rubber at any given moment. So, the first thing is to make sure your tyres are in good working condition, and then ensure that you drive in the appropriate manner.
Here are our 6 tips for driving in snow
Get the right tyres fitted
Some Alpine regions in Australia require you to equip particular tyres if you want to drive without chains. These tyres have the mud plus snow marking (M+S) or the 3 mountain peaks snowflake symbol (3PMSF). Always check the regulations of the areas you plan to visit so you don’t find yourself ill-equipped halfway through your journey and before it’s even really begun.
Get your car checked
When it comes to your car, it’s not only about the tyres. The higher likelihood of inclement conditions in snow regions make it all the more pivotal that some basic functions of your car are working properly. Headlights and windscreen wipers are obvious, but also make sure the battery is in good nick with no corrosion or build up around the terminals that might hamper its function in freezing conditions.
Roads affected by snow and ice make it harder for your tyres to find grip, and jerky movements with the steering wheel or accelerator or brake will only exacerbate this. Drive smoothly, with deliberate and gentle turns of the wheel or pushes of the pedals. Drive more defensively than usual with greater distance between you and the car in front and slow sooner when approaching corners. Pretend there’s a brimming cup of water on the dashboard and your task is to not spill a drop.
Grab those sunglasses
Sunlight bouncing off snow can be blinding. Those icy, white landscapes slipping past the car windows are beautiful to behold, but they can also create enough glare to seriously compromise your vision. It’s a simple one, but don’t forget it: always take your sunglasses when driving in snow.
If you hit black ice, do as little as possible
You can’t see it, but it’s there, formed on patches of road that don’t see sunlight. Black ice is incredibly dangerous for drivers, robbing them of pretty much of all control. The sensation can cause any driver to panic and start pumping the brake or jerking on the wheel, but that’s the last thing you want to do. Steering in the opposite direction or hard braking can increase the risk of spinning out. The key is minimal movements with both hands and feet and simply riding it out as much as you can.
Carry snow chains with you
There may well come a time when snow chains are required, and you’ll want to make sure you have them with you and that you’ve ensured they are the right size for your tyres. Remember that snow chains are meant to be fitted without having to life the vehicle, so don’t bother with a jack (which can be extremely dangerous on icy roads anyway, where your car could slip off).
Chains only have to be fitted to two wheels. For front-wheel drive cars, chains are fitted to the front wheels; for rear-wheel cars, chains go on the rear wheels; and for 4WD, chains go on the front wheels.
Driving in snow this winter? Get your car checked at Eastern Tyre Centre
Enjoy the slopes in earnest this winter by making sure your car can get you there safely and without incident. Drop by Eastern Tyre Centre so the team can run their eye over your car and make sure it’s in optimal condition, from the wipers to the wheels.