Homeowners in the Alps warned about mountain driving conditions

Posted on 05 February 2014

With the Winter Olympics in Sochi due to kick off this weekend, many winter sports enthusiasts and owners of property in the Alps have been inspired to head to the ski slopes.

When travelling in France, it is often unknown what conditions or terrain you may face on your journey to your ski resort. Therefore it is always important to be prepared for the worst, especially when driving in snowy, slushy, or icy conditions and the following tips may come in handy to get you safely to your ski home:
–  Know where you’re going before you set out in your car, as everything can look very different under a layer of thick snow, and signs may be obscured. If you have a sat nav / GPS, then programme it before you set off to find the best route.
–  Listen to weather and traffic forecasts and check for road closures. If bad weather is predicted, listen for guidance from weather forecasters and traffic agencies. It may be advisable to delay your trip, even just a few hours can make a difference.
–  Before you start out, warm the car and ensure that all lights, windows and mirrors are clean and free of snow and ice. Don’t use hot water on glass – the sudden change can crack the glass; an ice-scraper is inexpensive and effective. On the inside, use the air-con to remove condensation and activate front and rear windscreen heaters.
–  Make sure that you and your passengers are equipped for bad weather. Dress warmly and have a rug or blanket in the boot of the car. Winter sun can be low and cause glare, especially in snowy conditions, so have suitable driving glasses to hand in your car.
–  Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning…nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to manoeuvre by driving slowly.
–  Increase following distance. The normal dry road following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds in snow and slushy conditions.
–  Watch out for black ice – remember it may not always be visible. Drive your car with extreme caution. Try not to brake sharply. If you do go into a skid, drive into it, and never brake on ice.
–  If your car gets stuck in snow, shift into a high gear, keep your wheels straight and gently go back and forth until you are free. A spade or old sack/rug can help in case you can’t drive straight out.