connect, grow & thrive.

Driving on snow

Winter is here and with lots of snow (at least in the mountains) if you are planning to drive anywhere this winter then you should be prepared for driving in the snow.

First of all be sure that your car is fit for the winter: In Switzerland, there is no legal obligation to fit your vehicle with winter tires, but we cannot recommend having winter tires enough or at the very least have tires chains with you. Because in the case of an accident, the driver may be found liable if the car is not properly equipped and the insurance company may not cover the full cost of the damage.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. And take time to slow down for a stoplight.
  • Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads. A rule of thumb is to triple your following time to the car in front of you.
  • Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning. For example do one thing at a time, turn then accelerate.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold braking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill
  • If you do hit a patch of slippery road and you feel the car start to skid, you should take your foot off the accelerator and allow the speed to drop by itself until you regain control. Avoid using the brakes, as this will prolong the skid. If the car starts to spin while you are skidding, steer into the direction of the spin and allow the car to straighten up.

 

Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors

charlie.hartmann@livinginluzern.swiss

Charlie Hartmann is the managing director of the Living in Luzern organisation which focuses on helping international residents connect, grow and thrive in Switzerland.

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