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Winter driving with the wrong tires
Can cost a lot more than proper ones

Active safety in winter driving doesn't take more than simple measures normally.

Skidding could cost a lot more than proper tyres. Photo: Continental.

30th January 2006.

Who hasn't experienced one day that scary feeling of losing control, of being at the mercy of luck, good or bad, while surfing on wet tarmac as the car's momentum and obstacles decide?

Visibility gets reduced due to snowfalls and snowstorms. Roads get covered with slush which later freezes making them dangerously icy.

The worst feeling after accidents in such conditions is the bitter thought that it could have been avoided with simple, stupid measures, nothing more, to get through the cold season safely and comfortably.

Simple measures, like driving on winter tyres until spring starts. From May this year at the latest, motorists will face in Germany a minimum fine of 20 euros if their cars are not suitably equipped for prevailing weather conditions, and as much as 40 euros if they are obstructing the traffic, according to an amendment of the German Road Traffic Regulations passed by German parliament.

This does not mean that winter tyres are generally mandatory. And the comprehensive insurance can still only refuse to pay in the event of gross negligence on the part of the driver – like, for example, if the car was being driven on summer tyres in snowy mountainous regions – reassures the Federation of Public Insurance Companies.

“Nevertheless, those driving in snow and slush should think of their own safety as well as the safety of other road users by equipping their car with winter tyres”, recommends Sven Klein from the Federation.

Another protective and even simpler measure is to ensure maximum visibility at all times, by keeping car windows clear of snow and ice.

Scraping a peephole in the windscreen is not enough! Clear snow from the roof. Snow piled up on the roof can fall onto the windscreen obscuring your view and can also be a hazard to the person driving behind you.

Better visibility is not a one-way ticket! make sure the vehicle can be seen too. It is vital that the vehicle's lights are checked regularly.

Auto light bulbs do not normally fail suddenly. Instead, their light output declines gradually.

Do not forget to clean snow and dirt from the headlights as well.

Driving with your headlights on during daytime hours will help others to see you better during the dark season.

Get your lights checked. Many workshops still provide this service free of charge.

How about the battery? Check it or have it checked. After all, you want the car to start following an extremely cold night.

In any case, be well prepared for an emergency. Additional warm and windproof clothing also belongs in the car, together with the battery jump lead, the first aid kit and the warning triangle.

Last but certainly not least: always go light on the accelerator and drive reasonably to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Once these simple measures are fulfilled, you can bet that luck will be much nearer when you need it most... and that's the good luck, not the bad one. For the latter is most often busy with those who ignore simple safety measures. As simple as that.

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