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Ready for winter | Snow class



Winter ! Happiness for outdoor enthusiasts, anxiety for motorists. The latter dread the white season and its challenges such as a new outbreak of COVID-19 cases. And not without reason, believes Franck Kirchhoff, professional driving trainer at the Mécaglisse center in Notre-Dame-de-la-Merci.

He observes “several shortcomings behind the wheel”. According to him, old reflexes remain too anchored in most motorists. To clarify his point, Mr. Kirchhoff cites skid control. “Young people usually know how to manage with traction. The older ones are familiar with propulsion. But, he adds, these two groups have one thing in common: they have no control over the drifts associated with a four-wheel drive train. A mode of training yet very popular with Quebecers. »

Same observation with owners of electric vehicles. These are limited to a copy and paste of their previous experiences. Too few seek to understand their vehicle and adapt to its particularities.

Avoid the traps

Each year, Franck Kirchhoff runs winter workshops where you learn how to avoid the pitfalls of the cold season and better control your vehicle in a safe environment. Among the approximately 300 participants each year, many come to perfect their techniques. And there are the others. Those whose brows frown, teeth clench, hands tense as they walk the snowy roads. Those whose right foot hesitates and panics about the effort required to stop in time.

We gladly talk about skidding control, while we too often only touch on the question of braking. However, it is enough to stand at the corner of a street to see that many motorists have great difficulty in retaining the momentum of their mount.

And for good reason, as this maneuver represents one of the most complex aspects of winter driving, even if a vehicle equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS) naturally does not require any particular technique. In fact, still too few people know that this device does not reduce distances, but rather allows you to maintain steering control while keeping your foot pressed on the brake pedal.

Unfortunately, many drivers rely totally on technology without making the effort to understand it and take full advantage of it. Faced with these developments, Franck Kirchhoff pleads for continuous training for motorists, but in the meantime, he recalls that driving safety comes down to three points: vision, breathing and speed. It is important to see far ahead in order to easily detect the movements of other road users, and therefore to limit the risk of road accidents. Get plenty of oxygen to reduce stress and anxiety. And finally, to adapt your speed according to the often changing conditions.

Tires, our allies

According to Pierre Des Marais, professional driving trainer, the most common mistake made by motorists is simply not paying attention to the information transmitted by the front tires of their vehicle. “All the controls are there, they’re slower, but they’re still there. You just have to learn to come to terms with this reality and adapt to it. »

It is also important to experiment and not stick to received ideas. On this subject, Mr. Des Marais invites, from the first snowfall, to become familiar with the characteristics specific to his vehicle in a deserted place. No question of traveling at high speed, the brain must assimilate “the reactions in each phase of driving” (acceleration, times, braking and turns). These test sessions will be even more important if it is your first winter with this vehicle or with these tyres. “You have to know how to dare a little to discover the limits,” he says. This advice applies to everyone, regardless of experience level.

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