Winter doesn’t actually begin for the majority of us until the first snowfall. Of course, there are advantages and disadvantages. While some people are anticipating snowball fights and winter sports, others are coping with traffic gridlock.
Snow may be disastrous for those of us who must leave our homes early in the morning to get to work: snow glare, icy roads, foggy windscreens, snow, or even ice on the roof of the car can make starting the car difficult. And watch out! Driving in Germany with snow and ice on the roof or with only a small portion of the windscreen clear can rapidly become expensive: you can find yourself suddenly having to spend up to €120 of your Christmas bonus on fines. In addition, this is true for all drivers, not simply those operating cabs or trucks. Another offense that carries a fine is running the engine to warm up the vehicle.
The blog that follows offers some advice for enduring winter conditions and making sure you can use your Christmas bonus on things that make you happy.
Using the right tires?
Winter tires are unquestionably necessary during the colder months. Especially in areas with a lot of snow. The tread depth and tire pressure should be checked on a regular basis, just like regular tires. Experts recommend a tire with good traction and at least 4 mm of tread depth. If your tire pressure is too high or too low, your tires will wear out much faster, especially in bad weather. Furthermore, incorrect pressure can increase your car’s stopping distance on a slippery road. Check to see if you are required to use winter tires, and if so, whether the requirement applies to all four tires or just those on the drive shaft.
As of last year, buses and class N2 and N3 vehicles in Germany could only legally drive in winter conditions if all four tires were winter tires. Other countries have different rules and can levy fines of up to €5,000 or suspend a driver’s license if they are driving on incorrect tires.
Snow chains are another winter tire accessory, though they are rarely used. If you intend to use snow chains, practice fitting them on a regular basis so you aren’t stuck in the cold trying to figure out how to put them on.
Check your batteries!
Please remember, in the winter, batteries are less effective. Not just ten or fifteen percent less effective, but 30 to 35% less effective! Check your battery before winter arrives and replace it if necessary. In the winter, your battery works harder because the electrical load is higher and the starter requires more energy. Of course, checking your lights on a regular basis is essential at any time of year: you want to see and be seen!
Ice on the roof? A big no.
Of course, the best solution is to park near a location where professional snow and ice removal equipment is available. Regrettably, this is rarely feasible. Consider parking on a slight incline so that water runs off the top of the truck. RoofSafetyAirBags are installed on vehicles and trailers in the best-case scenario. Before the water freezes, the system must be activated. Please never climb onto the truck’s roof to remove ice without proper safety equipment! When removing ice sheets, it is also critical to ensure that no other vehicles or people are in close enough proximity to be injured or damaged by falling ice. You could try to push up on the trailer if it is empty. A broom is an excellent solution if you are driving a regular car. If you choose to drive with ice or snow on your roof and cause an accident, you could be fined up to €120.
Lastly, always prepare for the worst
Pack a blanket in case your vehicle breaks down or you become stranded due to road closures. If there will be more than one person in the vehicle, consider packing enough blankets for everyone. Sometimes it takes a few hours to get going again, or the German Red Cross arrives to assist. So bring more food than you think you’ll need, as well as a thermos flask filled with your favorite hot beverage.
We hope your winter is safe and comfortable!
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