Tips for Driving in Snow and Ice
- Operation SnowSafe
Be warned, the Police and Roads and Maritime Services conduct operation Snowsafe to target speeding, drink driving and seatbelt offences committed by people travelling to and from the snow.
- Watch your speed
Adjust your speed to the weather. Slow down when conditions deteriorate and proceed with caution, particularly in fog, snow or ice.
- Use fog lights or headlights
When the weather gets bad, use your headlights or fog lights to increase your visibility to other drivers.
- Take extra care overtaking
Never overtake on a hill, at a bend or at intersections.
- Don’t tailgate
Braking distances in snow and ice are increased compared to dry conditions. Allow extra distance from the vehicle in front.
- Brake and accelerate gently
Braking should be gentle and early. Accelerate slowly.
- Obey traffic signs
Of course, you should always obey the speed limit and any signs. But in the snow country, you need to watch out for signs advising you to fit snow chains.
Also take note of wildlife warning signs because many road crashes in alpine areas involve native animals crossing roads, particularly at night.
- Snow poles and road edges
Snow poles are painted orange and are tall enough for drivers to get their bearings in heavy snow. Don’t keep driving if you can’t see the edge of the road or the next snow pole. Stop your car, put on your hazard lights and wait for a break in the weather.
- Black ice
Certain sections of the mountain roads are signposted as snow and ice danger areas. Black ice is actually a clear layer of ice which forms on the road surface in certain conditions, especially in shaded areas. You can’t see it, but you’ll certainly know about it if you hit it.
If you do find some and manage to safely get through it, use your headlight to warn any oncoming drivers – they may not be so lucky.
Pay attention to the signs and always drive very carefully in these areas.
- Snow chains
It’s a good idea to carry snow chains on the Snowy Mountains Highway and the Alpine Way. All two-wheel-drive vehicles entering the Kosciuszko Road in the Mount Kosciuszko National Park must carry snow chains in winter unless the signs say otherwise (you’ll be fined if you’re caught without them).
The chains must be fitted when directed by signs or a Roads and Maritime Services Traffic Commander. Generally, this will happen at the special chain fitting bays along the route.
If you do need to fit them on the roadside, choose a straight stretch of road where other drivers can see you and where there’s enough room to safely park and fit the chains.
What are they? Snow chains are loops of chain that fit over your car’s wheels (usually the back wheels on rear wheel drive cars and front wheels on front wheel drive cars) to provide extra traction in the snow.
If you’re not sure which wheels to fit the chains to, ask your mechanic or check your car’s handbook.
While four-wheel drives may not be required to fit chains, it’s still wise to carry them if you lack experience driving on ice and snow.
You may also need them in the event of extreme weather conditions.