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Tips for Winter Driving

Mackenzie District experiences severe winter driving conditions every winter.

Tips for Winter Driving

Often, they are the worst in the country and can be life threatening.

Modern cars come with a myriad of safety features, however the most critical is the driver behind the wheel. A number of these safety features lose their effectiveness in snow, ice and driving rain. Note that having a 4WD vehicle does not exempt you from following these basis rules as although they may provide better traction they are still susceptible to black ice, fog, snow and other hazardous winter driving conditions.

Ideally, you should avoid driving in bad weather. If you must drive check the weather forecast – if you are heading out and the weather might turn on you, always choose the safer route over the quicker one. Be prepared, have your phone fully charged, stock your car for an emergency with items like blankets, gloves, hats, torches, first aid kit, tools, and always carry a plastic window ice scraper.

Other winter precautions include:

  • Not travelling unless you really need to
  • Drive more slowly than usual
  • Watch out for maintenance vehicles, road information signs
  • Being prepared for delays
  • Respect of other drivers on the road to ensure we all arrive safely at our destination
  • Maintain a greater following distance than you would in fine weather.
  • Avoid sudden braking or sharp turns – these can cause skids.
  • Dip your headlights on foggy, snowy, or very cloudy days.
  • Use the lowest reasonable gear when travelling downhill, and the highest going uphill.
  • Watch out for shady areas of the road on cold days, as ice will form faster and linger in these cooler spots.
  • Be aware of black ice, which is particularly slippery – it can appear as a glossy sheen on the road but is sometimes impossible to spot. Black ice is most common on quiet roads.
  • Slow down on bridges, flyovers, in tunnels, and shady patches on the road.
  • If you’re travelling at dawn, be wary of frost.
  • Accelerate smoothly and brake gently.
  • On stormy and windy days, take corners slowly as trees or debris may have been blown onto the road.
  • If you are involved in a crash, tell the police even if no one is injured. This type of information helps us to make improvements to the road where necessary
  • If you get stuck stay with your vehicle and keep everyone warm until help arrives
  • In the event of an emergency call 111

Further information