Winter Driving is…

  1. Never knowing what kind of road to expect. Icy, slushy or only wet? The water changes so much with the temperature, that each time you go for a drive, it’s a lottery. One day, it might be quite cold and the road is perfectly drivable, and on the following day, it starts snowing and the temperature suddenly reaches 0 ºC, and everything starts melting.
  2. Having to drive with both hands on the steering wheel! Yes, if it’s Summer, I will hand my left arm out of the window…
  3. Leaving a much longer distance between the car ahead of you.
  4. Avoiding the use of brakes; instead, using the gearbox is a much wiser decision. That’s why I would never have an automatic car, if I have to drive on icy roads! If you really have to brake, do it. Bear in mind, however, that not much you have trained before will help you on this moment of panic.
  5. Adjusting your speed at all times. Personally, I do not feel comfortable driving over 70 km/h, if it is snowing heavily, and visibility gets massively reduced.
  6. Being aware of certain areas, where you know, for sure, your car will slide: roundabouts and intersections packed with ice, some sharp highway exits…
  7. Not stopping if you are going uphill, but not speeding up, either. Your wheels will start spinning!
  8. Never overestimating your/your car capabilities. It might be the best car in the world, and you might be the most experienced driver, but things change when driving on snow/ice. Don’t get overconfident just because you have a 4WD. I’ve seen a lot of cars in the ditch, supposedly much safer than mine.
  9. Checking tyres conditions regularly. It might be the best Winter tyre, but if it’s worn out, it will only be good as a Summer tyre. Speaking of tyres, don’t get overconfident, just because you have studded tyres, instead of the friction ones.
  10. Assuming all other drivers are amateurs. Even if you never had an accident, there are very bad drivers on the loose. These people have no idea how dangerous their reckless behaviour is, and they should not even be allowed to leave home on a sledge.

Strange as it might be, I feel a lot safer driving in Sweden than in Portugal. In fact, even with good weather conditions, there are already more deaths in car accidents in Portugal than in Sweden. Swedish drivers are generally careful and patient, and know what it means to drive in Winter conditions.

In Sweden, it is mandatory to have a “Winter Driving Course” when taking the driver’s license. Besides that, if you have to drive as part of your job, you will take part on one of these sessions, to get some knowledge/practice on this subject.

Apart from all this, I keep a thermal blanket in my car, and some chocolates, excluding all that Winter paraphernalia one must have on the trunk. Just in case.

In addition to all these dangers, driving on a snowy road is a great pleasure! You just have to get used to it 😉

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