Winter is well and truly here in the Australian and New Zealand ski fields with big dumps of snow across the resorts. Whether your preference is skiing, snowboarding, tobogganing, tubing or snow–shoeing, this is a great year to be driving to the mountains.
A word of caution - whether you are new to the snow or have driven in snowy or icy conditions before, great care is needed as even small changes in the weather can lead to treacherous conditions on the roads. There are also certain roads you need to be especially careful on – like the road to The Remarkables near Queenstown, NZ - so take your time, drive to your ability and use your Navman to help warn of changing speed limits and road conditions.
We caught up with expert driving instructor Joel Neilson from Safe Driver Training, for his top safety tips about driving in snow or icy conditions.
- Service the vehicle before you leave and always make sure there is fresh coolant in the radiator to prevent freezing.
- Practise fitting snow chains at home where it’s warm and not snowing – it’s never a good idea to try and put it on for the first time on the side of the road in freezing conditions!
- Buy your diesel in the snow region if you drive a diesel car. This is because petrol stations in the area will sell winter diesel, which has improved resistance to icing.
- Drive in the wheel tracks of others when driving in snow– you’ll have more grip on the road.
- Avoid driving in icy conditions if possible - snow has more grip than ice; if the conditions are icy, best to avoid driving if you can as there’s a greater chance of losing control of your vehicle, or slow right down
- Watch out for the shadows - black ice tends to remain in the shadows of trees and mountains, so stay extra cautious and slow down when driving through these.
- Ice on windscreen - if you have ice on windscreen, don’t pour hot water on it as it can shatter the glass and in very cold conditions, lukewarm or cold water will soon turn to more ice. Instead warm up your car from the inside - turn your car on and turn on your car’s windscreen defrost function.
Also remember to carry a supply of water and snacks in the car, just in case there is a super dump of snow you get stuck out on the road.
Wherever you go this winter, have a wonderful and safe time.