Top 5: Winter mistakes that can get you killed

Many mistakes often go unpunished for a long time. But when something bad does happen, it is often far worse than a simple fine.

10w ago

It's the same tragedy on the streets every year. As soon as the first flake of snow falls, everyone suddenly realizes that there really are different seasons. But if you have not started your winter season by that time, you've already done a lot of things wrong.

Hopefully you, dear readers, know better and can claim not to have made any of the following mistakes. Because besides frozen coolant and a dead battery, there are some horrible mistakes that can put your life in danger.

5th place: High beams in heavy snowfall

The last winters were not the snowiest cold seasons of all times. But when the first flakes do fall and there is a strong wind as well, visibility is often worse than in a fog bank. The first reaction of many drivers is to switch on their high beams.

But snow has the wonderful characteristic that it reflects light. Challenging visibility + high beams = "whiteout". And once your eyes have adapted to the new lighting conditions, chances are you find your car in the ditch.

The solution: Adjust your speed and use low beams.

4th place: Snow-covered car

We love to rush through life. We never have time for breakfast or the newspaper in the morning. And anyway: Who reads a newspaper anymore? The fact is, clearing the snow off the car doesn't fit into our schedule. And so, at best, we still wipe the windows free or torture our poor windscreen wipers with this task and off we go! So why is that a problem?

Apart from the fact that you then lose the snow on the way and it lands on the windshield of others, you also don't want to freeze to death in your car. What does that have to do with it? Well, due to the heat that your car emits, the snow on the surface of the vehicle thaws slightly. When you park the car, the thawed snow freezes again and turns into ice. And you go from being a supposedly harmless snow-spreader to an ice-throwing machine.

And now we're not just talking about the tiny Ford Ka or Fiat Punto, but a Sprinter-van or a a large truck. The ice slabs that fall off these vehicles can be life-threatening.

The solution: Make time for brushing the snow off your car.

3rd place: Ice-covered windows

This title is actually self-explanatory and yet every year you see cars driving around whose occupants are barely visible through the windows. And if I can't see inside that car, it's going to be damn hard for that person to see me as fellow motorist.

So it's not enough just to scrape the windshield and at best turn on the rear window heater, but side windows and mirrors also help to keep an eye on other unwary road users to be able to react when they don't.

There are plenty of solutions: heated windows, ice scrapers, a garage, windshield covers, ...

2nd place: Wrong tyres

After having read comments in countless forums such as "We only have 2 snow days a year, I do not need winter tyres." this topic is especially important to me. Winter tyres are not snow and ice tyres. If you permanently drive on snow and ice, you need studded tyres. For everyone else, the following applies: If the thermometer frequently falls below 7 degrees celsius, winter tyres are essential!

Because what sets winter tyres apart is not their grip on ice and snow, but a rubber compound that is more elastic at lower temperatures and thus ensures better grip and braking properties.

And anyone who doesn't understand that it really is a matter of life and death can count themselves lucky that they have not yet experienced a really dicey situation in winter. Because those who have had accidents because of incorrect tyres often don't live to tell the tale.

The solution: Winter or at least all-season tyres with the Alpine symbol.

1st place: Overconfidence (aka: "Look: I'm Ken Block!")

Actually, winter tyres should be first place in this list, but there is an even worse cause of accidents in winter as in any other season. And for once, it is not technical, but human: overconfidence.

And the group of people with overconfidence is not limited to kids who experience their first winter with a driving licence in their own car, but extends to adults who believe they have already experienced all situations and that nothing can shock them any more, all the way to the older generation for whom it has "always worked out well".

In summer, at least 23% of all drivers think they are Michael Schumacher or Lewis Hamilton. And in winter they want to give free rein to their inner Ken Block and drift around the corners. Boys and girls: pull yourselves together! At the end of the day, we all just want to get home safely.

What are your absolute taboos in winter? What do you find particularly annoying about other road users? Let us know it in the comments. Thanks for reading and stay safe!

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Comments (34)

  • Black ice: when snow melts and then freezes again, it becomes a thin layer of clear ice with the tarmac visible underneath. The road looks harmless, but it is NOT harmless.

    Oh and here is what in Denmark is know as a "burkabil" (burqa-car):

      2 months ago
  • I would add driving with cruise control during icy conditions. (especially with rear drive and no traction control). Cruise breaks back end free and then you are spinning.

      2 months ago
  • Meanwhile in Canada...

      2 months ago
  • Also, leave a bit more space between you and the car in front - snow+ice = skiddy time. Good article.

      2 months ago
    • Thanks and what you‘re saying is true for all seasons and especially winter. I hate when people don‘t leave space when they‘re pulling up behind me.

        2 months ago
  • If you can’t be bothered to get snow tyres, and you are living where it snows a lot then at least keep chains in the car. Also, get a high-Vis jacket and a warning sign to place on the ground if you break down, because no one will see your lights in the heavy snow

      2 months ago