The switch to winter time is when we turn our clocks back and sleep an hour longer. The system has supporters and critics, but the facts are clear: the number of accidents rises considerably in October and November, especially in the evening rush hour. How best to respond to this increased risk? Step 1: take a look at these tips & tricks.
What is the impact of winter time?
Winter always has an impact on the human biological clock. Less sunlight often causes a lack of vitamin D which reduces resistance to disease, for example. The phenomenon of “winter blues” or the “winter dip”, a type of seasonal depression, has also become familiar.
But winter time can also affect our well-being, and even our health. For example, from the beginning of winter time, we see an increase in the number of heart attacks. Less (or disturbed) sleep may well be at the root of this. Fatigue is one of the main causes of the increased number of traffic accidents in October and November.
This is especially the case in the evening rush hour, when it gets dark all of a sudden and you have to be extra careful. It’s worth noting that more than 20% of the number of road deaths each year occur when winter time starts.
See better and be seen better, that is what matters. How do you achieve that? Here are some tips to help you.
- Ensure you have correctly adjusted dipped-beam headlamps: not too high, not too low, so that your vision is optimal and you notice all obstacles in good time. This is also a common “rejection item” during annual vehicle inspections, so it is important to check or have your lights checked by your nearest specialist.
- Pay attention to your daytime running lights and don’t forget to switch on your dipped-beam headlamps if there is dark weather, fog, a tunnel, etc. This is unless you have a light sensor or auto headlight mode, of course.
- Do you walk or take a bike, e-bike or e-step to work? Make sure you are clearly visible by using colourful clothing and/or a fluorescent vest.
To do: Adjust dipped-beam headlamps correctly
Correctly adjusted lights are crucial for seeing better and being seen better.
- Get the car ready: nicely level and with no heavy items in the boot. Check the tyre pressure. Sit in the car and reset the headlamp adjustment knob (if you have one) to zero.
- Park the car three to four metres from a dark wall or garage door, on a flat surface, with the front facing the wall.
- Test the lighting. Have another person check that all the lamps are working properly by switching them on one at a time: daytime running lamps, parking lamps, main-beam headlamps, fog lamps, direction indicator lamps, reversing lamps and third brake lamps.
- Finally, turn on your dipped-beam headlamps and check that the headlamps are working and that the light beams reach the same height. If they do not, at least one of your headlamps is not adjusted correctly. Adjust the height of the headlamps correctly or, better still, ask a specialist at the garage.
Tips for safe winter driving
• In fog and rain, keep a safety distance of at least 2 seconds or 66 metres (at 120 km/h) on motorways. In summary: halve your speed, double your distance. Tip: the distance between two street lamps is 50 m.
• Fog and heavy rain? Turn on your lights. Rear fog lamps are mandatory when visibility is <100 metres. In fog: reduce speed, keep your distance, do not overtake.
• For aquaplaning: do not brake abruptly, but do declutch and hold the steering wheel firmly. Place automatic gearboxes in the N position.
• Watch out for fallen leaves in combination with a wet road surface. Drive defensively, moderate speed, slow down gently in good time.
• Be careful when the sun is low! Always have sunglasses handy.
Make your car safer in winter
• Occasionally also clean your windows on the inside and do the same with your lamps.
° Adjust your dipped-beam headlamps correctly (see above).
• Replace worn windscreen wipers in good time and always keep some windscreen washer fluid (for winter conditions) in the boot.
• Reduce the risk of aquaplaning by checking the condition of your tyres and change them in good time, from a depth of less than 2 mm. Did you know that winter tyres are already useful when it is colder than 7 °C? Read more about them here.
Beware of fatigue!
Whatever your view of winter time, the fact is that fatigue is the main problem for motorists. This, in combination with typical winter weather, is the cause of peak accident figures.
How can you combat this?
- An effective remedy is a power nap. Park in a quiet place, continue to sit upright, close your eyes, turn off your stream of thoughts and focus on your breathing. A quarter of an hour is usually enough to feel as fit as a fiddle.
- Driving on a motorway in fog and rain for a long time is extra tiring, also because of the monotony. Leave the motorway and take the secondary roads; there is much more variation!