Winter driving is very challenging. The climatic difficulties and the smaller number of hours of light complicate the displacements during the coldest months of the year. Experts recommend keeping maintenance up to date and planning the route.
Tricks to Winter driving
Driving in winter is a challenge. During the coldest months of the year, rain, wind or snow pose an added difficulty, to which are added the smallest hours of light due to the position of the Earth with respect to the Sun. Therefore, it is advisable to take extreme precautions, plan the route and an extra dose of prudence and common sense to get to the destination smoothly.
Despite the fact that during the winter months the mobility rates are much lower than in other seasons, the accident rate is high. According to data from the General Directorate of Traffic (DGT), 31% of the deaths correspond to accidents occurring during the winter, and somewhat less, 30%, to hospitalized wounded.
In winter, the main problems are low visibility and slippery pavement. The most dangerous routes are, as during the rest of the year, the secondary roads, where, on average, 80% of the accidents occur. All kinds of vehicles come together in them and all the problems that can occur during the winter get worse.
Most of the accidents, 80%, take place in rainy conditions, which during the winters of 2012, 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016 caused 11,655 casualties with victims. A far away are those that occurred in foggy situations, which accounted for just over 7% and about 1,000 accidents; the strong wind (5.54% and 808) and hail (4.7% and 693). Strikingly, snow only played a decisive role in just 2.09% of the claims, causing 308 collisions with victims, including injuries and deaths recorded during the 30 days after the crash.
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Before going on a trip, the most important thing is to check the vehicle
Before leaving, the car has to be in perfect condition, because the weather can be more severe than normal. First, we have to check everything that has to do with visibility. Check the heated window, which often does not turn on for months, check the windshield wipers and liquids and clean the windows. You also have to check the tire pressure and pattern. If the drawing of this one is below the allowed limit, 1.6 millimeters. It will be less effective when it comes to dislodging the water found in the road, which implies that. According to the Continental method, a car whose “footwear” is worn will travel, at 80 kilometers per hour, up to 18.6 meters more distance to stop.
More than a million vehicles circulate in Spain without having the tires in condition, laments the RACE expert, who also insists on the need to plan the route, and stops, in advance. We can find cut roads. Also, if we drive with snow or rain we get tired more than usual. It is also convenient to carry vests, a flashlight and a tank filled with fuel, in case we are isolated, as well as having chains, and previously know how to use them. In no case do you have to drive more than 20 kilometers per hour with them on?
Jaime, director of the driving school recommends giving tires the maximum pressure indicated by the manufacturer if we are going to drive on ice or snow and, once running, adapt the speed to the weather conditions. Using the anticipation and looking away to react better to any unforeseen and, above all, maintain a greater distance of safety, equivalent to at least 3 seconds with respect to the vehicle that precedes us. Due to the reduction of adhesion due to cold or ice, once the march has started, the safety distance must be increased because the braking distance also increases.
The driving must be very smooth
With long gears, trying to touch the brake as little as possible and avoiding speed. And also minimize overtaking, which is the most dangerous maneuver, since many times they end in accidents or exits the track. In addition, the expert remembers that in rainy situations the most dangerous moment is when the precipitations begin to fall. With the first drops is when the pavement is more slippery because the dust of the road forms a barrel that causes landslides. We imply that to break within a curve, if it is not left more remedy, it is not “inconvenient”: “in the modern vehicles, with system ABS. This will avoid the blockade of the wheels, reason why we can solve some situations satisfactorily,
It is also important to check the lighting system frequently
Since snow can nullify its effectiveness by accumulating on the spotlights. And, although we are entering and leaving the vehicle with the certain frequency, avoid driving with the coat on and removing the heater, for two reasons that the RACE expert reels: “First, because the ventilation system prevents the accumulation of fog. And because driving with shelter reduces the effectiveness of the driver. The temperature inside must be constant, neither too strong nor too low, and must be around 20 degrees to prevent the crystals from fogging.
If the situation continues to be complicated and the snow accumulates, you can only double the precautions. “In that case, it is necessary to measure a lot of speed in curves and inclined sections and never stop the vehicle on a slope”, affirms by an expert, who recommends not trying to overtake stopped vehicles if we are not sure of passing. Otherwise, we can block the roadway, preventing access to emergency vehicles or snow plows.
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