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June 7, 2024

Your Safe Winter Driving Guide These School Holidays

Your Essential Tips for Safe Winter Driving in the Snow

The crisp mountain air, glistening slopes, and promise of a magical winter wonderland beckon. But before you pack the car and hit the road for your July school holiday escape, remember – winter can be unpredictable. Crashes on major roads leading to ski resorts see a dramatic rise during this time, with reports highlighting increased animal collisions. Here at Wheel Change U, we want your winter driving adventures to be filled with nothing but joyous memories. That’s why we’ve created this comprehensive guide packed with tips for safe winter driving in snowy conditions, with a special focus on getting your car July school holiday ready (They’re just around the corner!).

Be Prepared for Winter's Wrath: Pre-Trip Essentials

Winter driving throws everything at you – rain, sleet, snow, and even the occasional bout of black ice. To conquer these conditions, you need to adjust your driving style and make sure your car is up for the challenge. Here’s what you should do:

Tyre Maintenance for Winter Driving: Inspect your tyres!!! Ensure they have proper tread depth (consult your car’s manual for the recommended minimum) and no signs of wear and tear. Proper inflation is crucial – check and adjust your tyre pressure according to the manufacturer’s recommendations, as cold weather can cause a decrease in pressure. Consider all-season tyres that offer a good balance between performance in warm and cold conditions. Discuss your specific needs with a tyre specialist to find the perfect all-season option for your vehicle.

Following Distance: Double your following distance compared to normal driving conditions, regardless of whether it’s wet, snowy, or icy. This gives you extra time to react if the car in front brakes suddenly.

Slow Down and Take it Easy: Significantly reduce your speed below the posted limit, especially in slippery conditions. Remember, it takes much longer to stop on snowy or icy roads.

Smooth is Key: Avoid sudden movements with the accelerator and brakes. This can cause your vehicle to slip and slide.

Light Up the Day and Night: Turn on your headlights, even during the day, to increase visibility for other drivers, especially in snowy or foggy conditions.

Fog Lights vs. High Beams: In low-visibility situations, use fog lights instead of high beams. High beams can reflect off fog or snow, making it harder to see. If you don’t have fog lights, use your hazard lights with your headlights on low beam.

Beware of Water Hazards: Standing water and large puddles can hide dangers. Avoid them whenever possible, and never attempt to drive through floodwater – it’s incredibly dangerous.

Plan Your Trip and Check the Forecast: Before you set off, check the weather forecast and avoid unnecessary travel in heavy rain, hail, or sleet. If you encounter heavy snowfall or fog that reduces visibility, find a safe place to pull over and wait for conditions to improve.

Take Breaks and Check Your Vehicle: Winter driving weather can be tiring. Make sure to take regular breaks to stay alert on long journeys. Remember, a properly maintained car is a safe car. Always check your tyres, windscreen wipers, battery, lights, and brakes before any trip, but it’s even more crucial in winter.

The Treacherous Threat of Black Ice

Black ice – a thin, transparent layer of ice on the road – is a winter hazard. Here’s how to minimise the risk:

Choose a Car with ESC (Electronic Stability Control) if Possible: This can help you maintain control in slippery situations.

Increase Stopping Distance: Remember, braking takes longer in icy conditions. Always allow for plenty of room between you and the car in front.

Stay Calm and Avoid Jerky Movements: If you hit black ice, the most important thing is to stay calm and avoid making any sudden movements with the accelerator, brakes, or steering wheel.

Cars in snow
Conquering Snowy Roads: Top Tips for Winter Driving

Now that you’ve mastered black ice evasion, let’s delve into the world of snowy roads:

Car Prep: Ensure your car battery is in good condition and the air conditioning works properly to help de-mist windows. Consider adding antifreeze to your radiator for extra protection.

Pack for the Elements: Sun glare can be a nuisance, so pack sunglasses. Don’t forget warm clothes, non-perishable snacks, and water in case of unexpected delays.

Focus and Concentration: Snowy roads demand your full attention. Maintain a calm and focused demeanour while driving.

Two Hands on the Wheel: Keep both hands on the wheel, especially when turning or going downhill, for better control of your vehicle.

Steady Braking: Avoid slamming on the brakes, which can cause you to skid. Apply the brakes with a steady and gentle pressure.

Cornering Caution: Avoid braking when cornering. Brake before you enter the corner and then ease off the brakes as you turn.

Night Driving: If you encounter snow at night, use only low beam headlights. High beams can reflect off the snow, reducing visibility. Pull over safely, turn on your hazard lights, and wait for conditions to improve if visibility is severely limited by heavy snowfall.

Winter Driving + Parking

Follow the Signs: Park only in designated areas and follow instructions from resort staff or signage.

Reverse with Caution: Whenever possible, reverse into a parking space to avoid difficult manoeuvres when leaving. Poor visibility makes reversing out dangerous.

Protect Your Wipers: Put your wiper blades up at night to stop them from freezing to the windscreen.

Manual Transmission Manoeuvre: If you have a manual car, leave it in a gear that would allow you to drive out of the car park if needed.

A Safe and Memorable Winter Escape Awaits

By following these tips and staying alert to weather conditions, you can transform your July school holidays adventure into a journey filled with joy and happy memories. Remember, safety is paramount throughout your trip, from packing the car to navigating winter driving on snowy roads. With the right preparation and knowledge, you can conquer winter driving and embrace the magic of a snowy escape.

Ready to Hit the Snowy Slopes? At Wheel Change U, we want to ensure your winter adventure is smooth sailing. While we don’t recommend snow tyres for most Australian conditions, having properly inflated and maintained all-season tyres is crucial. If you have any questions about tyre safety or need assistance with a pre-trip inspection, don’t hesitate to contact our team of experts. We’re here to help you gear up for a safe and unforgettable winter escape!

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