Every year, the same scenario repeats itself. When the first snow falls, the number of collisions and road trips skyrockets.
And every year, the message from the authorities is also repeated: “Adapt your driving to the weather conditions! A message that does not, however, come with an instruction manual. However, for many, the basics of winter driving remain unclear.
In general, a driver will take four or five years before going through the risky situations he may encounter on the road. Recommending a driver to be careful if he does not know the dangers or if he does not know how to see a dangerous situation coming is like preaching in the desert.
I warmly recommend winter driving lessons to any new driver, and even to the not so new who would like to refine their art. Until then, here are some basic basics.
Know how to brake
In winter driving, knowing how to brake is without a doubt one of the best qualities to possess. However, the best driver will never be able to do justice to his talent if, at the base, his vehicle has no grip with the road.
Choosing the right winter tires and putting the necessary budget into it should be as essential and executing with as much enthusiasm as choosing your alpine skis.
That said, it should be remembered that even good tires can be perfect in some conditions, and less efficient in others. Each situation requires its evaluation.
Being aware of the effectiveness of your tires on a snowy or icy surface is essential. And doing a little test on a rough road can save a lot of trouble. Therefore, when the weather conditions deteriorate and a driver is lucky enough to have no one either in front or behind him, on a straight road, one should not hesitate to carry out a subtle braking test to validate the performance of its tires in these conditions. If a vehicle has an anti-lock braking system and it is already activated, the driver will be able to better estimate the distance he will need to immobilize his vehicle.
Performing such a braking test is important because some driver assistance systems, such as traction control or all-wheel drive, can falsify the data and surprise the driver. This is also why it is not uncommon to find that 4X4 vehicles are often the ones that find themselves furthest in the background when going off the road. They may have a greater capacity for acceleration, under braking, this is not the case.
Who has never had the reflex to brake while having the impression of being in a skid situation? And to brake even more by observing that the vehicle does not obey as desired? Loss of control guaranteed…
Pressing the brakes is not always the right solution. When a skid occurs, it is important to always remember that it is first and foremost the driver’s eyes that will dictate where to go.
The driver must never take his eyes off the direction in which he wishes to steer his vehicle, and turn the steering wheel in that direction. The person looking at the ditch will head straight into that ditch. Not to try.
Be aware of the road
Knowing how to read the road well is also crucial for maximizing safety, especially in winter. Because the road is active. In winter, it can change from minute to minute.
Few people are aware, for example, that the road offers a different grip between the right tire and the left tire of their vehicle. However, the day when you find yourself with a right tire on the snow and a left tire on the ice and you haven’t realized it, the instability will be felt strangely in a braking situation.
In a storm, lowering the volume of the radio to hear the sound of the engine is not to be despised either. This is a good habit to get into to detect how our tires react on the road.
Sweetness and anticipation
Another element that is important: anticipation. Increasing his distance from other vehicles and reducing his speed will always help the driver to better anticipate his maneuvers and to do them smoothly to maintain control of his vehicle. Sweetness is always in order, in fact. The more slippery the conditions, the more tactfully the brakes, throttle and steering wheel must be used.
Finally, never forget that to control your vehicle, you must first and foremost control yourself. The ability to stay calm and focused remains paramount in winter driving. Just as respect and humility go hand in hand with security.