Road conditions heavily depend on weather and can become very difficult in heavy rains, snow storms, foggy and freezing weather. In these conditions you should leave sufficient safety distance to notice hazards early and have time to react, if necessary. Therefore, your speed should be situational – adapted to road conditions and visibility conditions. Remember that braking distances on slippery road surfaces are much longer. In wet and slippery weather stopping distances on average will at least double compared to those required for stopping on dry roads. This is the result of water accumulating on road surface, which reduces tire grip. On wet roads there is a high risk of aquaplaning. In case of aquaplaning, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually. Do not break sharply, and do not make any sharp turning movements.
Winter driving is far more challenging. First of all you should clean your car from snow. Clean all windows and side mirrors. Never drive with excess snow on the roof or other parks of the car. This may create dangerous situation, if during driving the snow falls from your vehicle and blocks the view of other road user. Aerodynamical characteristics of your vehicle also will be impaired by excess snow.
Before your trip you should check local weather forecast and road webcams for icy conditions or snowfalls. The temperature outside does not need to be 0 or lower for the ice to form on the roads. At +4 C or lower, you should already expect slippery road conditions. The most dangerous type of slippery road is so-called ‘the black ice’. This is a very thin layer of ice which usually forms under the bridges and tunnels and looks like a wet surface.
It is not enough to get a good set of winter tires and think that you are ready for winter roads. The traction between the road surface and the tires in winter will not be the same as it is in summer.
How to drive in slippery road conditions
In slippery road conditions it is easier to lose traction than in normal conditions. In order to avoid loss of traction in slippery conditions, you should follow these simple guidelines:
- Accelerate slowly and brake smoothly, avoid harsh accelerating and braking
- Slow down before the bends, not when you already entered a bend.
- Avoid overtaking
- Avoid sudden and rapid maneuvers
- Avoid driving over puddles and grooves filled with water
Driving in the dark
When driving in the dark, there is a high risk to be dazzled by the oncoming vehicles. When you are dazzled your ability to see objects in darkness deteriorates at once and it may take several minutes to get used to seeing objects in darkness again.
When to dip headlights?
When you see an oncoming vehicle, you should dip your headlights only when the vehicle is close enough and when the light from your headlights is directed straight towards the oncoming vehicle.