Driving tips for the winter weather conditions

Posted by: Cal on 22/04/2014

Category: General

If you're an Australian with a drivers licence, you have undoubtedly heard the saying "drive to the conditions". In order to be as safe as possible on the roads, it's important to consider factors such as traffic and weather conditions and how they could affect you and your driving.

With a change in season, the weather plays a starring role in determining safety on the roads. Although we may not experience snow and other extreme conditions in every single part of Australia, winter does bring a few extra hazards that may not be present in the warmer seasons.

Here are some tips for driving in Australia in winter weather:

Fog

Poor visibility is a dangerous side effect of winter weather, and needs to be dealt with appropriately. If you encounter poor visibility, it may be best to pull over in a safe place until the fog lifts. Otherwise, reduce your speed, remain alert to hazards, and switch on headlights and rear fog lights if necessary.

Wet roads

Heavy rain or sleet will cause the tarmac on the roads to become slippery and potentially dangerous. Ensure you drive sensibly when the road is wet by reducing your speed, increasing your following distance, and making sure your car tyres are up to scratch.

The Automobile Association (AA) recommends tyres sit at at least 3mm of tread depth for winter driving, and most definitely no less than 2mm. The Australian minimum is 1.6mm, so even if your car tyres are legally allowed to be driven, they may need replacing to be safe in winter weather. Here at Tyreright, we recommend a quality brand such as Event tyres.

In addition, you should always maintain the correct tyre pressure for your vehicle.

Snow and ice

While most Australian regions will not be affected by snow, drivers in some alpine regions may need to deal with this extreme weather condition. In some cases, drivers may need to fit out their car tyres with snow chains, and they must also be fitted when directed to by authorities in the snow fields. This will help with grip on the road and could prevent accidents. However, as well as fitting your car with suitable chains, State Government Victoria's VicRoads also recommends drivers reduce speed and seek advice from their car manufacturer about the suitability of their car before embarking on a drive in snowy conditions.

Drivers should also take care to brake gently, use a low gear when travelling downhill and travel as far away from other cars as possible - according to the AA, it takes 10 times longer to stop in ice and snow than in optimum conditions!

Heavy rain

Heavy rain is a double-whammy in terms of reducing visibility levels and your car's level of control on the road. Very heavy downpour makes it hard to see, even if your windscreen wipers are working on full! Firstly, make sure your windscreen wipers are in good condition and replace them if you need to. Reduce your speed and switch on your headlights if visibility is very poor - however, you must remember to switch these off full beam when approaching other drivers to avoid dazzling them. If the rain is very heavy, pull over in a safe place until conditions improve. 

Flooding

Driving through large puddles and flooding and watching the water spray up high may seem like fun, but this particular winter weather can be dangerous to drivers. If you come across flooding, the best option is to find an alternate route where the road is clear. If this isn't possible, you may need to set up camp for the night at a hotel, motel or other accommodation to wait until the flooding has cleared. Even if the water level appears to be low, Presswire Australia states just 30cm of water is enough to pose the risk of sweeping you and your vehicle right off the road, especially when the water is running. 

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