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Winter tyres, appropriate speed and a chilled attitude

Published on 17.02.2021

Advice for driving in winter


Drivers need to be especially careful when temperatures are close to freezing, as weather and road conditions can change quickly. Here is some advice on how to drive safely in winter.

Alternate freezing and thawing means that the road surface is constantly changing. On top of that, a layer of ice is even more slippery at zero than with a severe frost, as an additional film of water can form. When this happens, and in winter conditions generally, winter or all-season tyres (marked M.S. or M+S or M&S or with the Alpine symbol) are compulsory. ACL advises the choice of a tyre with an Alpine symbol, as tyres with this logo have to meet various tests carried out in winter conditions.
 
Winter conditions refers to “black ice, packed snow, melting snow, sheet ice and frost”. Driving with summer tyres in these conditions incurs a warning and a fine of 74 euros.
 
And the law says that the minimum tyre tread is 1.6 mm, summer and winter. For safety reasons, ACL recommends not going below 4 mm.
 
Winter is definitely the season when drivers need to be even more careful than usual. Changing weather conditions, reduced light and other safety hazards require us to adapt our behaviour to all of these situations.

 


Advice for driving in winter

 
  • If it has snowed or the windscreen has iced over, you need to clear all the surfaces of the car. Don’t forget to have a scraper or de-icer spray to hand. 
  • Moderate your speed and keep a greater safety distance from the vehicle in front. Allow more time for your journeys. 
  • After travelling a few metres, you might like to test the brakes to get an idea of the road conditions. 
  • Avoid sharp movements of the steering wheel or brakes, rapid acceleration and close overtaking. 
  • If, in spite of all your precautions, the vehicle starts to skid on a straight road, declutch, brake and counter-steer gently. The ESP will help stabilise the car. 
  • If the car skids on a bend: stay calm and press briefly and firmly on the brake pedal. As you do this, only counter-steer very gently without any sharp manoeuvres. Look in the direction in which you want to travel. 
  • If there is black ice, freezing rain or any other extreme weather condition, it is better to stop and wait for the gritting and snow clearing services to arrive.  These situations are generally forecast in the media, and it’s a better idea to postpone or cancel any journeys.

 

 

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