How to stay safe on winter roads

Written by James Jennings for Australian Seniors.

Winter is upon us. In some parts of Australia that means snow and, more alarmingly, black ice are potential hazards. Luke Youlden, a Bathurst-winning V8 Supercars driver and the chief driving instructor for Porsche Track Experience in Australia, knows a thing or two about how to handle a motor vehicle in extreme conditions. Here’s his advice.                                                        

1. Put winter tyres on your car

It’s extraordinary the difference winter tyres make, since they’ve got significantly more grip. The last time I tested cars in the snow in New Zealand, the car with normal tyres just sat there with spinning wheels, while the car with winter tyres took off straight away. Obviously, winter tyres – which have a different type of tread – aren’t for every climate, but if you live or visit somewhere cold and icy, like Tasmania or the ACT, they’re a boon.                                                                       

2. Drive slowly and plan ahead

Roads that are covered with ice or snow make driving a lot more dangerous . This is because the tyres of your car have much less grip and it will take longer for the vehicle to brake. This also means that the car won’t respond as quickly to your accelerating and steering.

So, this means that driving slowly and looking at the road further ahead is important, as well as planning more than normal. Braking distance becomes extended by a great deal – usually double. So plan your braking earlier for the corner and try to pick parts of the road that look a little less shiny. It’s also really important to sit low in the car, with nice bent elbows, nice bent knees, and hold the wheel at three and nine on the clock face. You need to expect the unexpected. Here are 10 ways tech can make senior driving safer

3. If you lose control

As we age, this can affect our response time when driving. As long as you’re looking at and steering exactly where you want the car to go, then you give yourself the best chance. That could mean looking through the passenger window and steering hard left – just don’t look at what you don’t want to hit, which is a challenge because, as humans, we’re unfortunately geared for that.  

At Australian Seniors, we understand that every driver is different. That’s why we offer flexible cover options to help you find cover for you and your car