Tips for safe winter driving
2018-12-06 | By ACCESS
For internationals not familiar with winter weather conditions experienced in the Netherlands, ACCESS provides advice or driving in snow, icy and cold conditions. Here are the top 10 winter tips and other advice for driving in the winter conditions. 10 winter tips for a safer drive
- Warm a frozen lock gently by using a de-icing spray. If this doesn’t work, you can heat the key with e.g. a hairdryer or a hot water bottle.
- Avoid short journeys as they don’t allow your car to heat up properly and can lead to freezing gearboxes and ventilation systems.
- Wash your vehicle regularly as road salt can damage the metal chassis, the paintwork and the wheels.
- Keep your windscreen clean. On salt-treated roads, dirty spray can be thrown onto your windscreen from other vehicles.
- Ensure that the proper reservoir is topped up with windscreen cleaner containing the appropriate amount of antifreeze. Check that your windscreen wiper blades are in good condition.
- Use winter tyres. Summer or standard tyres lengthen the braking distance, even at 30 km/hour, and the possibility of skidding or losing control of the vehicle increases dramatically. Also remember to check tyre pressure more regularly during the winter as the change in temperature can affect the air pressure.
- When starting your car in freezing weather, turn off all non-essential equipment, e.g. lights, radio, GPS, car heater, rear windscreen heater, etc. This ensures that you are giving maximum battery power to the engine. If the vehicle doesn’t start the first time, try starting it in a short burst of approximately five seconds. Then leave a thirty-second interval before attempting to start the engine again to allow time for the battery to recover.
- In freezing weather, do not apply your handbrake when parking your car outside as it may freeze overnight. Park your vehicle on a level surface and put it into 1st gear (for a manual) or “park” (automatic).
- Do not use hot water when cleaning ice off your windows. You might damage your windscreen as the water is likely to quickly freeze which will exacerbate the problem. Instead, it is recommended that you use an ice scraper to remove the ice.
- Be prepared for emergencies. Always take along warm clothing, a safety vest for each passenger, a breakdown triangle, a mobile phone, a thick blanket and some snacks (including bottled water) in the event that your vehicle breaks down or you become stranded.
Other useful tips are:
- Before driving, check the weather forecast. If thick fog, heavy snow or icy conditions are expected, drive only if it is absolutely necessary.
- Before driving, check your route to see if there are any road closures or abnormal traffic jams.
- Prepare your vehicle for the journey by fully de-icing it and removing all snow from the roof.
- Keep both hands on the steering wheel at the “ten to two” position whilst driving unless you wish to change gear or use a turning indicator.
- If you have lost control of your vehicle and it is beginning to skid, do not brake hard but release the pedal and steer in the opposite direction.
- In foggy conditions, reduce your speed and ensure your lights are on dipped beam, so that other road users are aware of your presence. Do not blindly follow the taillights of the vehicle in front, and maintain a safe braking distance. Periodically use your windscreen wipers to remove water from your windscreen.
Driving in the Netherlands in the winter is relatively safe, as long as you are mindful of the most common dangers that could be encountered and take the appropriate precautions.
Summary of 10 Wintertips en adviezen van de ANWB voor veiliger autorijden, published by Fonds Slachtofferhulp in cooperation with ANWB, supplemented by comments from ACCESS.