There’s so much to love about a trip to the snow, but for first-timers and those not experienced in winter alpine driving, there can also be some anxiety around getting there. Community road safety organisation, RoadSafe North East has put together a Top 10 Tips for alpine driving, to ensure regional Victorians can safely access all the snow-fun, with confidence and care.
“Recent snowfalls and the promise of more to come, means that many regional Victorians, will be heading to the ski resorts, some for the first time. Whether it’s for a day-trip or to stay and play, we are appealing to drivers to follow some simple basic rules, if driving in icy and snowy conditions,” said John Weinert, Executive Officer, RoadSafe North East.
“We are working in partnership with Victoria Police, to educate drivers about the need for careful, cautious driving in alpine areas and how they can minimise the risk, with concentration and patience. It’s not about instilling fear in drivers, especially first-time visitors to the snow, but equipping them with the skills and confidence to get there safely and stress-free, if road conditions do deteriorate.
Positioned in a highly visible location on the Great Alpine Road, Myrtleford, the RoadSafe NE Variable Messaging Sign (VMS) is targeting drivers on their way to ski resorts at Falls Creek, Mt Hotham and Mt Buffalo, with the messages: ICE & SNOW. PLEASE DRIVE SLOW and BE SNOWSAFE. CARRY CHAINS. SLOW DOWN.
Sergeant Michael Connors, Wangaratta Highway Patrol, said that winter driving can be a particularly challenging time for drivers, even before they enter higher alpine areas.
“You cannot see black ice. It generally forms at night-time, in the early mornings or on sections of the roads that haven’t been exposed to sunlight, like under tree cover. If you hit black ice, you will have little or no control over your vehicle. Avoid accelerating, braking hard or turning the steering wheel quickly. If you try to struggle against the ice by braking hard or steering in the opposite direction, you increase the risk of spinning out. It’s best to remain calm and apply the brakes gently to slowly regain traction.
“We are asking drivers to please slow down in areas known for black ice. Signs will alert drivers to areas where it’s likely to be found, including near Ovens, Harrietville and Eurobin on the Great Alpine Road,” Sgt Connors continued.
TOP 10 TIPS FOR SNOWSMART DRIVING
- Get up to date road conditions before your trip visiting VicTraffic or downloading the VicTraffic app
- Always carry chains. Resort authorities will advise when and where to fit chains.
- Avoid sudden braking or acceleration on snow or ice. Braking takes longer in icy conditions so always allow for plenty of room between you and the car in front.
- If you hit ice, remain calm and apply the brakes gently to slowly regain traction.
- Take corners very slowly and steer gently and steadily to avoid skidding. Never brake if the vehicle skids, instead, ease off the accelerator and steer slightly into the direction of the skid until you gain control.
- If stuck in snow, do not spin the wheels or rev the vehicle, as this will dig the vehicle further in. Instead, put the vehicle into as high a gear as possible and slowly manoeuvre the vehicle lightly forwards and backwards to gently creep out.
- ICE AND SNOW REMOVE IT BEFORE YOU GO: Make sure you clear ALL snow from your vehicle – you can be hit with a hefty fine and loss of demerit points for driving with snow on the roof of your vehicle. It is a danger and a hazard.
Carry an ice-scraper to clear the bulk of the snow, ice and frost, and use the vehicle’s heater and fan in conjunction with the air conditioner.
- Engage low gear when you drive down a mountain.
- Drive with your headlights on low beam during daytime to improve your visibility to other road users. Make sure you turn on your vehicle’s fog or head lights when the weather turns bad.
- Do not use Cruise Control. When driving in snow, it is important that you have full control over your vehicle at all times. Using cruise control can mean that you are less able to quickly react to poor road conditions and situations. And if your vehicle skids while on cruise control, it will likely continue accelerating, which can make the situation worse.