Winter Driving Tips
With snow forecast going into the weekend, local mag "Yodel" asked Ian McKeller, an advanced driver trainer registered with the Driving Standards Agency in the UK for his tips on staying safe on the mountain roads this winter.
Ian runs skid prevention courses in the UK and in Morzine so we asked him - how does a skid happen?
'A vehicle skids when one or more of the tyres loses normal grip on the road, causing involuntary movement of the vehicle. This happens when the grip of the tyres on the road becomes less than the force or forces acting on the vehicle.
A two-wheel drive vehicle with winter tyres will outperform a 4x4 with normal tyres. Snowchains are essential as the local police may insist you fit them before ascending to Les Gets, Morzine and Avoriaz. Know how to fit them.
You're at risk of skidding on snow, ice and heavy rain while driving in the Alps in the winter. But remember - wet mud, damp leaves & oil cause sudden slippery patches too. Look out for cold spots in shaded areas such as under trees where black ice can form. A change in road surface & worn road surfaces can also cause your car to skid.'
How can we avoid skids?
Leave plenty of room for manoeuvre, reduce speed and increase the distance you allow for stopping. On slippery roads a vehicle can take up to 10 times the normal stopping distance.
Use a higher gear in slippery conditions to avoid wheel spin, especially when moving off or travelling at low speeds.
On slippery roads aim to brake, steer, accelerate, and change gear as smoothly as possible, so that the grip off the tyres is not broken.
Avoid speed or acceleration, which is excessive for the road surface.
Steer in the direction you wish to go.