A little earlier than in previous years, winter is here. All children are only too happy to bring out their sledges and start snowball fights with no quarter given, but the majority of motorists are less happy with the thought of dealing with harsh weather conditions. Here is some advice for driving in snowy and icy conditions.
Prepare your trip
Before setting off, check the state of your windscreen wipers, washers and headlights. When the snow starts falling, it is important to be seen. Also check your tyres and tyre pressure. If you have snow tyres, it is recommended that all wheels are so equipped for them to be as effective as possible. However, never use snow chains on the motorway unless invited to do so by motorway maintenance staff. Finally, make sure that you have at all times, warm clothing, blankets and drinks, especially if you are travelling with children or frail adults. In addition, check the weather forecast before setting out. If the forecast predicts particularly harsh weather conditions, do not hesitate to postpone your trip.
To adapt your driving to the weather conditions, keep to a moderate and constant speed, avoid sharp braking and drive your vehicle as smoothly and "fluidly" as possible. Any sharp reactions can result in loss of grip and maybe control of the vehicle. Anticipate manoeuvres, accelerate gradually and use, by preference, the engine brake to slow down. It is also recommended that you use a higher gear than in "normal" conditions (or use the "winter" option on automatics if so equipped). These techniques, that are also those of "eco-driving", will allow you to consume less fuel and reduce CO2 and particle emissions.
Give way to prudence!
Less effective breaking and unpredictable behaviour of other vehicles (skidding, sliding) means that you need to increase the safety distance between your vehicle and others, and keep to them! In all cases, priority must be given to gritters and it is strictly forbidden to overtake snowploughs in operation. You must also, of course, drive on the snow cleared lanes. When it is snowing, turn on your headlights and rear fog lights. Finally, if the driving conditions really deteriorate, stop at the next service station to wait, safely and in the warm, for instructions from the motorway maintenance staff.