December and January have been amazing snow wise with record snowfall. For the Courchevel valley, météo France which is the weather surveillance and forecasts national institution emitted a 5/5 avalanche risks warning, a first since the creation of the system.
We are experiencing really bad roads conditions. I am working as a physio osteopath and sports massage therapist in Courchevel for years, I m driving from place to place 7 days a week, sometimes really late at night. My car is my office and I have to be on time whatever the weather conditions.
The purpose of this post is to give you safety tips as I ve seen again this winter too much car accidents and too much pricks on the road.
Get snow tyres !!! It may sound obvious, but there are too many people on the roads of Courchevel driving with summer tyres. And avoid mixing snow tyres and summer tyres, your car will slide. The results: blocked roads, panic, and real potential danger for other. The picture below was taken last night, the owner of this Audi just abandonned his or her car.
Don’t warm up your engine in a garage !! It happened in the past, people got intoxicated with gazes.
If you are driving to Courchevel from far , keep you gas tank at least half full as it might freeze. The best is to refill it locally as anti freeze additives are added in local gas station.
If possible do not use your parking brake during snowy, icy conditions. The parking brake cable can freeze up and break.
Never use cruise control on snow or ice. You need full control of your vehicule.
If your car start to slide always look and steer where YOU WANT to go. It’s really important. Don’t look where your car is going, you ll steer to the wrong direction.
Needless to say a 4x4 is a must.
Try to brake as much as you can using your gear box.
Vision is important, clear out the snow of your windshield. More important clear out the snow on your car roof, if you brake suddenly or go downhill the snow can fall on your windshield and you ll see nothing. I saw some accidents accuring that way in Courchevel.
Keep longer safety distances as stopping your car will take more. Downhill your car can slide, uphill the car in front of you can slide backward.
Make sure your car battery is working properly. I got stuck this week between 2 osteo appointments, my battery died from cold, I had to buy a new one.
Always have in your car, a pair of wires to jump start your car or the car of a fellow snow enthusiast, pair of gloves, snow ice scraper, shovel to dig out your car.
Make sure your exhaust pipe is free of ice and snow as carbon monoxide may kill you if gases enter the passengers compartment.
Driving in snow makes projections of snow, melted ice on your car and lights. Make sure to clean lights optics from time to time to keep good lighting at night to be seen and to see.
Always drive on the lower gear possible it will insure grip.
Don’t stop going up the hill, use momentum as much as you can as your car can be stuck if you are stopping.
Don’t power up! Your wheels will start spinning making you loosing grip.
Accelerate and deceralate slowly, I often use the image of a boat when driving on snow, keep in mind inertia and momentum.
I ll keep repeating it ! If you are snow-bound stay in your car always never walk away, and keep the engine running to keep you warm.
Before heading to our lovely ski resort of Courchevel, make sure you got anti freeze windshield washing liquid and plenty of it. First it will prevent the liquid to freeze therefore damaging the windshield washing system. Second you gonna use a lot of it as the car in front of you will send melted snow on your windshield.