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Driving in snow Winter driving tips to keep you safe
Driving in very wintery conditions or in snow is not high on the list of things we Singaporeans are good at. For obvious reasons #tropicslah!
But when the temptation of snowflakes gently falling is too hard resist, you may find yourself heading for colder climes.
Hiring a car and driving yourself on holiday is a good option – it gives you independence. If you are heading for winter, here are our top tips for staying safe when driving n the snow.
Driving on the left or right?
In Japan, driving is done on the left like Singapore, but in Europe, the States and Canada, where you may be considering a ski or winter holiday, you will have to adapt to driving on the right. See our earlier post for tips on how to survive driving on the other side of the road!
Before you leave home
- Make sure you have an International Driving Permit which you can obtain online or over the counter at the Automobile Association of Singapore.
- Make sure you have sorted cover with Budget Direct Insurance, both car insurance and travel insurance.
Driving in snow
- In many countries during the winter months, you must carry snow chains in your car. They are commonly available in colder climates, and your car hire company will advise you. Snow chains increase traction and brake efficiency, but you will need to drive more slowly when using them.
- Stick to major roads. These are more likely to have been gritted and maintained by the highways authorities. Plan your route accordingly.
- Always clear ice and snow from the whole of your vehicle, including the roof. Don’t use hot water to do this as it may crack or damage the paintwork!
- When snow falls, turn your headlights on the dipped beam setting. Don’t use the fog lamp unless visibility is very poor; a rear fog lamp will dazzle other drivers.
- Allow more stopping distance. It can take as much as ten times longer to stop on an icy road. A good rule of thumb is to make sure you are 20 seconds behind the car in front in icy conditions.
- All driving movements should be smooth and progressive, avoid sharp steering or braking. In a manual car move off slowly and slip the clutch as gently as you can. Always keep the engine revs low, this means the engine is turning over slowly preventing you from skidding. In an automatic or four-wheel drive ask the car hire company if it has a low-ratio mode.
- When safe, test the brakes and try to see how slippery the road is. Only do this when there are no other vehicles around. If you feel the car skid, immediately take your foot off the accelerator. Try to avoid using the brakes. If the car starts to spin steer into the direction of the spin and allow the car itself to decelerate and straighten up.
- Everything takes longer when driving in the winter, particularly stopping and turning. Make sure you look ahead and anticipate more than you would usually.
- Check your hire car has the required ice scraper, de-icer spray, shovel and brush before setting off. Some other essentials you should include are sunglasses (for snow glare), blankets, torch, first aid kit, gloves, jump leads and grit, sand or cat litter to use if you get stuck!
Don’t be put off if all this sounds a bit daunting and much harder work than the PIE on a Friday night. Countries where it snows every year are geared up for cold weather. Roads are cleared and gritted, and if you stick to the main routes you can have an adventure without the drama!
Wherever you go, whatever you do, remember it’s vital to have good Travel cover.
Check out Budget Direct Insurance for your best deal