The months between November and March can pose a host of hazards for driving. First, drivers must contend with extended darkness that makes driving even under ideal conditions more difficult. Winter, however, brings hazards that can often make it downright dangerous to drive. A good rule of thumb is to stay home whenever extreme bad weather threatens, but circumstances often make the ideal solution impossible. When driving in challenging conditions is a must, the best advice is to proceed with caution and slow down, no matter what the circumstances. Here are some tips for winter driving.
Victoria gets a lot of precipitation in the winter, most of it coming as rain, which significantly reduces the ability to see while greatly increasing the distance to stop. Your vehicle will require approximately twice the normal distance to stop. Aquaplaning, caused by driving too fast into surface water, may also occur when tire tread cannot channel away enough water. Avoid this hazard by reducing speed. At the same time, make sure that you have proper tire pressure and tread depth to maximize road grip. If aquaplaning occurs, ease off the accelerator until tires make contact again with the road.
Flooded roads provide another hazard. Avoid the deepest water, which occurs near the curb. If water seems too deep, it is. Don’t chance entering, but look for an alternative route. If you drive through high water, put your vehicle in first gear and remember to test brakes when you emerge.
Snow and Ice
It’s not enough to reduce your speed in these conditions. Travel at speeds where you will be able to stop at a place that you have the ability to see. It’s also a good idea to avoid sharp movements in braking, acceleration or steering. Pay particular attention to curves, which can be dangerous. Braking is difficult in these conditions as the centrifugal force can cause your vehicle to spin. To avoid spinning, put your vehicle into low gear, allow speed to fall and use brakes gently.
Braking may require up to 10 times the normal distance. Significantly increase the distance between vehicles. Road surface conditions can often be patchy, so stay alert as isolated patches of frost or ice can occur under bridges or other sheltered spots. If you end up getting caught in a snow drift, call emergency services and wait for help to arrive.