Winter driving

I  thought it’s be a good idea to reproduce an extract from an article in one of the New Zealand newspapers on how to handle driving during winter conditions. For most of us, if not all, who are staying in the tropics and heading towards the temperate countries for a holiday, driving in winter will demand a completely different set of skills. Snow and frost can be a particular hazard, costing unexpected trouble to both the vehicle and us. So here is the advice from Liz Dobson:

Before you leave home

  • Make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition and are removing water efficiently.
  • Check your tyres – make sure the tread is 1.55mm (a match head) deep, and they are pumped up to the correct pressure.
  • Give your front and back lights a clean – they’ll be working overtime night and day.
  • Lift up the bonnet and have a peek at your battery – make sure the connections are clean.

Drive safely

  • Keep the distance between you and the car in front – at least three car lengths (repeat after me: one elephant, two elephant … )
  • Slow down in downpours – on the motorway police suggest you drive at 80km/h instead of 100km/h; on city or country roads, pull over if you’re not confident.
  • A quick way to demist your front window is blast it with hot air, but wind down your driver-side window about 10cm.
  • If you start to skid or aquaplane, steer the vehicle gently in the direction you want to go – a simple way is look at where you want to go, not where you think you are heading. Don’t touch your brakes.
  • Keep plenty of fuel in the tank – at least half full – as you never know when you will be stuck in traffic or have to make a detour to reach your destination.

Snow business

  • As the ski season is about to start here are some tips before you don a beanie and make a snowman.
  • If you’re heading to the ski slopes for the first time, practise putting on your snow chains before you leave home.
  • Consider having your vehicle serviced before you head to Whakapapa.
  • Check the weather forecast before you leave, and be prepared to change your travel plans.
  • In snowy conditions, a good rule of thumb is to reduce speed by 50 per cent.

Pack an emergency kit

  • Torch with spare batteries, ice scraper/brush for clearing your windshield, jumper cables, a spare jacket, blanket and work gloves.
  • If it is snowing when you park your car, raise your wipers off the windshield so the blades won’t freeze to it.
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