With the Baltic Run fast approaching, it’s time for some top tips on how to drive like a pro in the snow!
1: Get yourself some snow tires (or chains!)
In many countries snow tires are a legal requirement in winter, for good reason. No tires are effective all year round, and the perfect fit for a hot summer just won’t cut it in the ice or snow. Winter tires have a deeper tread and a softer composition, to keep you gripped to the road. Chains are even better, but aren’t necessary on most occasions.
2: Go Slow
Enjoy the scenery. Winter is not the time to be speeding. Even if you’re an accomplished driver… others may not be; and it’s always other drivers that pose the biggest risk. Always be wary of black ice, though even a little snow makes it far harder to grip. One tip is that, if possible, you should try to maintain some momentum rather than coming to a complete stop, as starting from standing can be tough. Even at traffic likes, it’s best if you don’t stop completely. Which makes it even more important to…
3: Brake early, brake gently:
Brakes just aren’t as effective in wintry conditions, especially if applied hard and fast. It’s best to avoid them when not needed, and instead control speed through gears and never going too fast. Try not to accelerate on corners; keep the speed for straights, if necessary. When it is time to break, gently apply them as early as you can. Look further ahead than you normally would, you need to react to hazards far faster than normal. Which also means you should…
4: Leave 3x more space
Make sure you always leave sufficient space between you and the car in front, which means at least three times the normal gap. If they come to sudden(ish) stop, you don’t want to end up skidding straight into them. Another tip is not to follow in other drivers tracks. While it might be tempting, tracks mean that snow has been compressed, which makes it icier. It’s generally easier to keep traction on fresh snow.
5: Prepare for the Worst Case Scenario
If you follow all these tips, you should be fine. More than that, many find winter driving the most fun they get all year. Still, it’s essential to prepare in case something does go wrong. Make sure you’re stocked up in anti-freeze, and that you carry a shovel and a rope, for if you get stuck. Try not to travel with less than half a tank of gas, and ensure that your battery isn’t running low. If you do get stuck, excessive revving will just dig you in deeper: try to shovel some snow away, and (if you have any) pour gravel or sand in front of the wheels to help them gain traction.
Think you’re ready to drive like a pro in the snow? Then test out your skills on the Baltic Run, kicking off in Krakow. On your 9-day winter odyssey through Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, you’ll have plenty chances to show off your driving skills, when you’re not discovering the beautiful frosty scenery and complex history of the region, or warming up with the reliable combination of traditional sauna and local vodka!