- Tyres, brakes and suspension, some of the things to check for vehicle to be in perfect working order
- Anticipation to avoid brusque manoeuvres, most important skill when driving in adverse weather conditions
Many of the road trips to be undertaken during the forthcoming Christmas holidays will be towards mountain areas and snow destinations. It is always important to have the car in perfect working order, but even more so if we are going to be driving in adverse weather conditions. Also, certain advice should be borne in mind for safe driving in snow and ice. These are recommendations made by David Enfedaque, an engineer at the SEAT technical Center.
It is not necessary to be an expert driver in these conditions, but according to Enfedaque, “there are drivers who are unaccustomed to these conditions, and nervousness may give rise to brusque manoeuvres”. The most important thing is “to know how to anticipate, to be able to decide in good time what manoeuvre is going to be carried out, handle the steering wheels, brakes and accelerator smoothly, and keep calm”, he adds. Anything other than smooth driving may give rise to skidding, instability in the car and unsafe driving. One of the most common mistakes made is excessive turning of the steering wheel, which may bring about in under-steering.
The following guidelines should also be followed for vehicle start-up: “If you have a car with manual gearshift, you should start in second gear to stop the driving wheels from skidding”, says the SEAT engineer. Braking should be carried out on a straight stretch of road, and not on a bend, which offers only low grip. The braking force of the engine should be used whenever possible.
When faced with icy roads, “we should reduce speed to a minimum, try and move at walking speed and avoid braking unless absolutely necessary”, he recommends. When driving on a snow-covered road, you should avoid following in the tracks of previous vehicles since the snow may have been compacted into ice.
In an emergency situation such as being snow-bound, it is helpful to rock the car backwords and forwards. If the car is off the road, you should make sure the lower part of the car is not resting on snow. “In the latter case, the snow should be cleared from this part of the vehicle so that the wheels have good support”, he warns.
Being familiar with driving help or safety systems for your car such as ABS (Antilock braking system) or ESC (Electronic Stability Control) will be of invaluable help when driving in these conditions.
It is also advisable to have the car properly serviced before undertaking the trip, as well as use the right tyres, which should have a winter tread, or else carry the right chains for the car wheels if needed, particularly in the case of gradients. Also, it is to be highly recommended to check the weather forecast and road conditions, so that both are appropriate for driving to one of the many snow destinations people are expected to make for over the Christmas holidays.