Tips for driving in snow 雪で運転するコツ

2013.11.28 (Thu)

car-in-snow-1024x640 Photo by Chris Runoff (flickr- creative commons)

Yurihama is not Hokkaido, but we do get snow. Here are some tips for driving in snowy and icy conditions.

Prevention is better than cure

Make sure your car is serviced regularly, and your battery, antifreeze/cooling system, defroster and rear window defogger, and windscreen wipers are in good shape. Snow tires are also a good idea – they have a special tread and are made of a softer rubber so they won’t freeze as hard. In Japanese, these are called スノータイヤ (suno—taiya, snow tire) or スタッドレスタイヤ (sutaddoresu taiya, studless tire). Inside your car, stash extra warm clothes, blankets, food and water, as well as a snow shovel and some kitty litter or sand so you can dig yourself out and give your car some traction.

It’s all about traction

Driving in winter is all about maintaining traction. In general, don’t accelerate or brake too suddenly or too hard, keep the engine speed as low as possible, and avoid sudden turns. If you feel that you’ve lost traction and your wheels lock up, don’t slam on the brakes – either ease off the accelerator and let the car slow down on its own, or pump the brakes gently.

Leave lots of space

One of the most common mistakes people make when driving in snow is not leaving enough stopping distance. Especially because your brakes aren’t as effective, you need to leave twice, or even three times as much distance between you and the car in front. This will give you time to come to a stop or steer around them if needed.

One final note is not to use hot water to clear the ice from your windscreen – you may crack the glass! Room temperature water is a better bet, or use a scraper.

If, like me, these tips make you more rather than less terrified of driving in the snow, do some more reading on technique, and practice in an open space, like a carpark or parking lot, before taking to the open road. You could also try the driving school in Kurayoshi!


One comment

  1. Thank you – very useful!

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