Winter advice from across the world

Posted on December 10th, 2012 by James Luckhurst

Winter advice from across the worldTHE WEATHER has made the news frequently in the past few days, with heavy rain, wind, flooding, freezing and even some snow. I used the excuse to do some internet research about what information is shared with drivers where snow and ice are a much more predictable and significant part of the winter mix.

First to Canada, and to Scott Marshall, training director of ‘Young Driver of Canada’, who states that winter driving is a mental discipline.

“The main thing for proper winter driving,” he writes, “is being mentally prepared. Speed limits are set for ideal conditions but having snow and/or ice on the roads means it’s not ideal, so why drive the speed limit? Slow down. Once the roads are ploughed and clear, you can get back up to the proper speeds once again.

“Slowing down and accelerating on snow-covered roads takes more time, so why be in a hurry? Remind yourself that you’ll need to slow down sooner when approaching that stop sign or red light and also give yourself more time to get your speed up when leaving such signs and lights.

“Having winter tyres on your vehicle is a great way to give your vehicle more traction. This added traction can not only allow you to make better routine stops, but can also allow you to maintain better control in emergencies. Since the weather is colder, your tyres may lose air pressure sooner, so check the tyre pressure regularly.

“Prepare for winter driving by ensuring you have a winter driving survival kit in your boot. You can buy such a kit, but you can also make up one and place the items in a duffle bag in the boot. Items you should include would be a long handle snow brush with scraper, extra washer fluid, booster cables, flares, shovel, blanket, candle with lighter and either salt/sand or kitty litter for traction.

“Being prepared for winter driving means you could also add a personal survival kit that could include items such as an extra pair of socks, gloves, hat, non-perishable food items for energy and, believe it or not, toilet paper. Sometimes when you’re stuck, you’ll still need to go.”

From Canada to northern Europe – and advice from the police in Finland. The National Traffic Police, the Finnish Transport Agency, the Finnish Transport Safety Agency ‘Trafi’ and the Meteorological Institute want people to pay attention to wintertime trafficsafety.

  • What can be done this winter to achieve a safe and smooth flow of traffic?
  • What can we do to avoid multiple-vehicle collisions?
  • How can bad winter conditions be predicted? Will the railway traffic run more smoothly than in the last few years?
  • What must ferry passengers take into account in winter?

Every driver must take the winter conditions into account when preparing for the winter, when planning every single journey and above all in traffic itself. The Police and Trafi urge drivers to take the precautions necessary for winter conditions.

The car tyres must be in good condition and have the correct air pressure. “Drivers should also ensure that their car is clear of snow and ice before they set off to drive,” says Jussi Pohjonen at the National Traffic Police.

“It is also important to keep in mind that it takes time to clear the car and car windows of snow and ice,” says Inkeri Parkkari, Chief Specialist at Trafi. “Before setting off, it is worthwhile to follow the weather forecasts and the warnings in force. You should reserve enough time for journeys in winter conditions and you should always take the varying conditions into account in your own manner of driving.”

And a few other tips from winter experts:

  • Good time management can help to avoid unnecessary stress and the risks caused by it
  • Adults should always set a good example for children in traffic
  • The number of accidents varies from one year to the next depending on the weather conditions
  • Typically, many accidents occur on such days when it is snowing and the temperature is low. Whirling snow also significantly restricts visibility
  • Drivers should pack warm clothes in the car, in case the journey is suddenly interrupted
  • Don’t forget your woolly hat

Download our winter driving leaflet for some useful tips.