Driving in winter – how to reduce the risk of accidents

It’s not just snow and ice that can affect the grip of your tyres. Source: iStock / LeManna

Black ice, snow-covered roads, poor visibility – has put together some tips for reducing the risk of accidents in winter.

Wintry driving conditions pose a new challenge each year. The risk of accidents in winter can be reduced considerably if you bear in mind a few points. has compiled the 6 most important tips for you:  

1. Drive on winter tyres from October

Make sure you always drive on winter tyres from October onwards. The performance of summer tyres is adversely affected as soon as the temperature drops to 7 degrees Celsius. It’s not just snow and ice that can affect the grip of your tyres. Increased humidity and cold temperatures are enough to compromise the performance of a summer tyre tread. 

2. Choose your route carefully and allow plenty of time

Better to be safe than sorry when choosing your route: avoid mountain passes and roads with limited winter road maintenance. Bridges and roads shaded by woodland are also especially prone to the rapid formation of black ice and fog. Plan enough time for your journey – many road accidents are triggered by stress. 

3. Avoid areas of migrating wildlife

The risk of damage caused by wild animals is increased from the autumn right through until the mating season in spring. Wild animals are especially active during the twilight hours and often cross sections of road while foraging for food. If you pass through an area known for its migrating wildlife, reduce your speed. This will increase your reaction time should any wild animals cross the road in front of you. If a collision is unavoidable, do not try to swerve. Perform an emergency stop (if possible). 

4. Adapt your driving style to the weather and conditions

If you are faced with poor road conditions and low levels of visibility, drive at a reduced speed and leave a gap of at least 50 metres between you and the vehicle in front of you. Good to know: according to Article 32 (2) of the Federal Road Traffic Act, drivers must reduce their speed in difficult road conditions. Any infringements can result in a report and a fine, especially in the event of an accident.

5. Keep a safe distance

Frost often causes black ice to form. Even winter tyres have trouble gripping the road in these circumstances. This increases braking distance and can cause a vehicle to skid out of control. If you do not keep a safe distance from the vehicle in front, any sudden braking manoeuvre will almost inevitably lead to a rear-end collision.   

6. Drive with dipped headlights

It is compulsory for motor vehicles to drive with dipped headlights during the day. Cyclists are also required to ride with lights in the dark, during twilight hours and when riding through tunnels. If you are out and about without a car, wear clothing that is as bright as possible, ideally with some reflective material.

If, despite taking extra care, you still have an accident, then our article on what to do in the event of an accident may be helpful.

What precautions do you take in winter? Discuss this topic with other road users in our Community