Driving in winter conditions is demanding. Familiarize yourself with the winter driving safety package.
TAKE PRECAUTIONS - KEEP YOUR OPTIONS OPEN
Anticipatory driving is, first and foremost, the ability to recognise danger factors of traffic in time. Danger factors may include the road and its condition, weather conditions and other road users, such as pedestrians, bicyclists or other vehicles and their drivers. One's own condition and that of the vehicle is also very significant.
The anticipatory driver knows how to keep his/her options open regarding danger factors; this driver has enough space and time in which to make his/her move. The anticipatory driver is driving several seconds ahead of the actual events, so to speak.
Winter tyres must be either studded tyres or friction tyres and the tread depth of the tyres must be at least 3 millimetres. The recommended minimum tread depth in difficult weather conditions is 5 millimetres.
Winter tyres must be used from December to the end of February. However, one can use friction tyres all year long.
Studded tyres can be used from the beginning of November to Monday following Easter. Studs can also be used during other times as well, if the weather requires it.
The obligation to use winter tyres applies to regular automobiles, vans and special automobiles which have a total mass of 3.5 tons at the most.
Winter tyres must also be used in trailers which have a total mass of over 0.75 tons and 3.5 at the most; the tyres must be studded if the pulling automobile uses them.
Slippery road conditions seem to catch the drivers by surprise every year. The risks of winter conditions are not taken seriously.
- When it is slippery, the braking distances increase significantly.
- Even good winter tyres can not match the traction of summer conditions.
If you are driving 80 km/h on a dry asphalt road, you need 60 metres to stop and it will take you about four seconds to do it.
If the road is snowy, how much distance and time do you need then?
On a snowy road, you need a distance that is almost 30 metres longer in order to come to a stop from a speed of 80 km/h. You will also require almost three seconds more than during summer conditions.
These metres and seconds can prove fatal. You can come to a stop in the same distance as in the summer only if your speed is 60 km/h at the most.
Slippery conditions are not exclusive to winter
Wet road surface will diminish traction. A wet cobble-stone street is extremely slippery. Clay and fallen leaves contribute to making roads slippery as well.
If there is a lot of water on the road, the tyre may start surfing on a "water mattress". The car will slide easier and can no longer be properly steered. In the winter-time slush, the car may slide even easier than in rainy conditions.
The surest way to avoid sliding is to lower your basic speed and to avoid driving in tracks. if you should happen to slide, press down the clutch and let the speed come down. Avoid making forceful steering moves.
Beware of the black ice
|The black ice|
is treacherous. The road is at its most slippery when the temperature is close to zero. Traction qualities may vary even on short distances. Hollows and bridges are especially hazardous sites.
How to prepare for the weather
The surest way to combat bad weather conditions is by maintaining a good safety distance to other vehicles and by adjusting your speed sensibly according to the situation. Also be sure to keep the windows of your car clean, so that you are able to see what is going on around you at all times.
Even under slippery conditions, the traction of the tyres does not vanish by itself. Traction must be maintained with care.
- Accelerate in such a manner that the tyres do not spin on empty.
- When negotiating a curve, make sure that the tyres are not sliding sideways.
- Avoid driving with great speed into snow banks which have formed on the road.
- Avoid locked braking (except in emergencies), because the car can not be steered in locked braking and it may start sliding sideways and end up in the wrong lane.
Too short a safety distance to the car in front often leads to rear collisions. Many destructive head-on collisions have also occurred due to short safety distances.
When you maintain a good safety distance
- you are able to see what is going on in front of you and are able to anticipate situations,
- others are able to see you as well and are able to anticipate your actions
- you will have time and space to act
- driving is more peaceful, more evenly paced, and more economic.
If you are driving too close to the person in front of you, you have to drive under his/her terms. You have to be alert at all times to see what he/she is doing. Your driving is jerky, uneconomic and stressful. You do not have a lot of options regarding how to act in sudden events.
According to Finnish Law on Road Traffic, the pedestrian must in normal situations always use an appropriate reflector while using roads during dark.
While driving in rain, fog, dim conditions or actual dark, the same dangers apply as during regular day-light conditions. They can only be seen a lot later, and very badly at that.
Long-range headlights allow you to see for 100 metres. Driving 100 km/h, you will cover that distance in less than four seconds.
While using short-range headlights in an encounter situation, the visibility only extends to approximately 30 metres. Driving 100 km/h, you will cover the distance in about one second. There is not much one can do in that time.
How to increase your options in the dark
- Use correct situational speed.
- Use long-range headlights at all times when it is possible without blinding others.
- Perceive correctly, i.e. look to the outer edge of the light zone. Utilise the lights of the approaching vehicles. You can avoid the glare by directing your eyes to the right side of the road instead of the headlights of the incoming traffic.
- Remember to use a reflector. As a driver, you know how difficult it is to see pedestrians even in illuminated areas. When you step outside your vehicle, you need a reflector. Do not leave an unlit car on the road area. If you have to stop on the side of the road, be sure to use parking lights.
If the rear of car starts to slide
- Immediately steer in the direction of the slide and press down the clutch.
- Do not brake.
- Return steering to the direction of the road, as the sliding diminishes.
If the front of the car starts to slide
- Press down the clutch, do not brake.
- Do not turn the steering wheel any further.
Even temporary righting of the front tyres may accelerate the return of traction and the sliding will stop. An experienced driver may be able to cope with a minor slide simply by regulating gas and steering. If you are uncertain about how you would perform, do as explained here.
Controlling a slide revolves around controlling and timing several actions concurrently.
Many cars have antilock brake systems, slide prevention systems and stabilising systems as standard equipment. Their objective is to eliminate the mistakes committed by the driver and to prevent uncontrollable slides.
However, if the car starts sliding due to speed, acceleration, tracks on the road, forceful steering manoeuvre or braking, proper traction must be returned and control of the car reasserted fast.
In dangerous situations, the natural reaction is to brake so hard that the tyres get locked. The speed does diminish effectively in locked braking, but the automobile can not be steered.
If the car is sliding sideways during locked braking, or if the vehicle is getting out of the driving lane, the brake must be released so that the car can be steered once again. As the driver reassumes the control of the automobile, he/she must brake again. By sequencing the use of the brake, the speed diminishes and the car remains under control during the entire process.
When you must stop in a fast and controlled manner, act as follows:
- Brake, and if the car will not stay in the driving lane, release the brake and steer. Brake again, release the brake and steer, brake again…
- The clutch pedal must be pressed down at all times during this process, otherwise the engine may die.
In automobiles which have been equipped with an antilock braking system (ABS), the technology will see to it that the vehicle can be steered even during full braking; therefore, there is no cause for you to release the brake.
Sometimes your own lane may be blocked. There is very little distance and collision looms. What to do? A collision with the blocking obstacle is often the worst option. Therefore, it is a useful tactic to always try to go where there is space available.
Act as follows:
- Press down brake and clutch pedals. Speed must reduced as effectively as possible. Locked braking is the most effective way to accomplish this. The clutch must be pressed down, so that the engine will not die.
- Release the brake pedal, so that you are able to steer.
- Steer past the obstacle. Usually a moderate steering motion is enough to re-direct the car past the obstacle. If the steering move is too forceful, the car may start sliding.
- If your automobile has an antilock braking system, press the clutch down, brake hard and steer past the obstacle. There is no need to release the brake, because the car can be steered during braking.
The seatbelt secures the person travelling in the car into his/her seat. Therefore is it important that the people in the front seats as well as in the backseat use seatbelts. Without seatbelts, the passengers in the back face the risk of being hurled with immense force against those in the front.
Look for more: Animated performances of safety inside vechile