Adverse weather conditions, poor visibility and the winter period in general challenge the skills of any driver. But do we really know how to drive on snow? In Innsbruck, the capital city of Tyrol in western Austria, racer and driving expert Jordi Gené tells us how to handle this situation calmly and confidently.
- The golden rule: An immense blanket of snow stretches as far as the eye can see, and sometimes reaches a depth of two metres. It’s early morning and the sun is beginning to peak out from behind the mountains. At the wheel of a SEAT Leon X-Perience equipped with 4Drive all-wheel drive, Gené shares his first piece of advice: “Anticipate what’s ahead and take it easy, that’s the basic rule for driving in harsh conditions.”
- How do you drive down a mountain pass?: “Using the engine brake is fundamental. Driving downhill in low gears will help handle the vehicle and it takes a lighter toll on the brakes”, says Jordi as he begins a descent. This recommendation applies to both winter and summer, but is especially true in the cold season as at low temperatures the wheels lose grip on the asphalt.
- Surprises lurking in the shadows: When driving on snow, pay careful attention to dark patches on the road where there could be black ice: “it’s important to stay calm and avoid making sudden manoeuvres”, explains Jordi. “You have to turn the wheel gently and lightly step on the brake until you’re over the ice patch and the wheels begin to gain grip again”, he points out.
- Only use the foglights in extreme conditions: The day is cold but sunny. In these cases “we never use the foglights. Their use is restricted to when there is poor visibility”. These lights deliver added brightness and are useful during heavy rain or in dense fog, but “they can dazzle oncoming traffic if used incorrectly”, warns Jordi.
- The best way to park outside: Jordi also advises to put the car in ‘P’ for park if the car is automatic, and either in neutral or first gear in the case of a manual. When you leave your car parked outdoors, he recommends “putting the wiper blades up so they don’t stick to the windscreen during a snowfall or if the temperature falls sharply”, he says as he raises the blades.
Inspecting your vehicle, having authorised snow chains and increasing the safety distance are further recommendations that will help make your winter travel even safer.
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