Difficult road conditions

Driving in the dark

The problem of driving in the dark is actually not as much the inability to see obstacles, as it is the risk of being dazzled by oncoming vehicle or streetlights. When you are dazzled while driving in the dark, your eyes get accustomed to the light, but at the same time their ability to see objects in the darkness deteriorates instantly. It may take several minutes before you get accustomed to the darkness again.

You don’t need to rush and switch from the main beam to dipped headlights as soon as you see the oncoming vehicle. In fact you should dip your headlights only when the oncoming vehicle is close enough and when the light from your headlights goes directly towards the oncoming vehicle. For example, when you are driving along a left-hand bend and see an oncoming vehicle, you can keep your main beam for a longer time than the driver of the oncoming vehicle because your lights will not dazzle him right away. At the same time keeping them on for a longer time will allow you better vision.

Slippery roads, wet weather

Did you know that in wet weather, stopping distances on average will at least double compared to those required for stopping on dry roads? This happens because water on the road reduces tyre grip. In wet weather it is critically important to keep a safe distance to the vehicle in front. This will allow you enough time to observe possible obstacles and plan your actions.

On wet slippery roads there is a high risk of aquaplaning (sometimes referred to as 'hydroplaning'). Aquaplaning happens when the tyres lose grip with the road due to the excess of water on the road surface. For example, driving over a puddle you can feel aquaplaning happening for a short while – the steering becomes unresponsive, but this does not last long. This is usually not so dangerous. However, if road surface has a layer of water over a longer stretch than a small puddle, aquaplaning results in losing grip of the road for a longer time which is naturally dangerous. It is important to know how to react if you feel that your vehicle is aquaplaning. When you feel the lack of traction, ease off the accelerator and slow down gradually. Do not try to break sharply, and do not try to make any sharp turning movements.

Winter conditions

In winter it is critical for a driver to be able to detect slippery conditions in good time. You should remember to check the local weather forecast or road webcams for icy conditions or snowfalls. First of all you need to clean your car from snow and ice before starting off.  All windows and side mirrors need to be clear and there should be no excess of snow over the rooftop or other parts of your the vehicle. The temperature outside does not need to be 0 or lower for the ice to form on the roads. If the thermometer shows +4 or lower, you should already expect slippery road conditions.

If the road looks dump while the outside temperature is below +4, the road may in fact be frozen. The ice, which forms on the road misleadingly appearing as wet surface, is called ‘black ice’ and it may be very dangerous. The risk of slippery conditions is greater on bridges and under the tunnels. Remember that polished snow may also become ice, especially at the junctions.