News Release

2016

Amateur's Guide to Driving in Snow

Driving in snow is perhaps a common practice in the Northern hemisphere, but with the forecast of snow on the horizon for most of the country this coming winter, South Africans may find themselves in very unfamiliar territory.

"Driving in rain is one thing, but driving in snow is infinitely more complex," says Mandy Barrett of Aon South Africa, leading insurance brokerage and risk consultants. "It seems that our bizarre weather patterns are set to continue, and that South Africans may very well be finding themselves in a winter wonderland. If you absolutely must venture onto the roads during icy weather, keep the following tips in mind to help you safely navigate driving in snow," says Mandy.

  • Before leaving, remove all ice and snow from your vehicle, especially from all the windows. DO NOT use warm water as it may crack your windscreen; rather use a de-icing fluid or a scraper.
  • It may sound dramatic, but keep a few extra supplies in the vehicle in case of a breakdown, such as a warm blanket, food, water, a torch, a medical aid kit and perhaps even a shovel should your vehicle get stuck in mud.
  • Charge your phone and have it handy.
  • Try and stay on main roads as far as possible.
  • Switch your headlights on.
  • Tyre tread depth is a given road safety requirement, but even more so in snowy conditions. Make sure that you have at least 3mm of tread or more.
  • Increase your following distance as it takes up to ten times longer for a vehicle to stop on icy road conditions. A good rule of thumb is to allow for a 20 second gap.
  • Drive with the intention of doing it slowly, smoothly and gently, at all times. This includes gentle acceleration and braking in addition to taking your corners a little wider. Avoid swerving at all cost.
  • If you find yourself in a position where your vehicle skids, take your foot off the accelerator and allow the speed to decrease by itself, until you regain control of the vehicle. Sudden braking will only prolong the skid.
  • If the car starts to spin, steer your vehicle in the direction of the spin to allow your tyres to find their grip.
  • If you are driving up a hill, don't stop on the uphill as your vehicle may very easily start sliding backwards.

"Motor vehicle insurance provides cover for incidents that may occur during snowy conditions as it is one of the insured perils on an average insurance policy. We do however urge drivers to review their motor insurance policies on a regular basis with the aid of a professional broker to ensure that your vehicle is covered for every possible scenario and that there are no untoward exclusions lingering in your policy," concludes Mandy.

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