27.01 - 28.01.2017


Famous rally pilot Dominykas Butvilas shares his tips how to drive and act in difficult road conditions during winter.

1. Train your skills and get to known your car

No one was born with the knowledge how to drive. Some are more experienced, others do need to learn more. Nevertheless, to drive safely on a winter road is necessary thing to learn. It is important to train your skills. There are not many places for practical driving lessons. Still try to find an empty parking lot and try to test grip with the surface.  Try to stop quickly for several times. This is a way to program the limit of tires grip. Believe me, after the tenth time you will definitely know when the car is going to stop.

2. Winter tires

Dominykas Butvilas is a well-known rally pilot.

Good tires will definitely help you on winter road. Winter tires with a deep tread will better throw out the snow and clean the gap of tread. Thorns will guarantee traction on ice. Before starting your journey, take a look of the tires.

3. Evaluate conditions

Drivers can experience a great variety of surfaces during winter period. Starting with “black ice” or asphalt. If you are guaranteed that there is no car going afterwards try to stop your car quickly in order to check if the road is icy. It is a very simple but very useful way to evaluate conditions.

4. Use assistance systems

There is a great number of electronics in new automobiles nowadays. Despite the fact that many drivers criticize electronic systems, still, I believe it helps people. You may try the difference of driving with and without electronic systems. Just turn them off on a safe road. I suggest driving with the electronic systems on.

5. Do not get lost

If you have already got into an unexpected situation, do not make it worse with unnecessary actions. The worse thing to do is to press the breaks strongly and block the wheels, because the car will slide out of control. Most cars in Lithuania are front-wheel-drive. As a result, when the front end of the car slides, it is necessary to turn the wheels into directionwhere you want to go, and gently hold down the accelerator pedal. Try to avoid sudden moves. You should always remember the rule ‘it is better to push speed pedal and to try to drive rather than suddenly use the breaks’.

6. Safe speed

It is vital to remember that no one else knows what is the safe speed better than you. It is your car, your tires and your decisions. So if the maximum speed on the road is 90, but you feel that the road is icy, the condition of tires and visibility are not good, drive 50-60. Choose speed which is comfortable for you. Sometimes people get confused about the difference of allowed and recommended speed. The conditions of the road should be evaluated individually every time.

7. Drive calmer during winter

The less the grip – the easier it is to provoke unnecessary slip. Gently pressing the accelerator, as well as non-aggressive handling of the brakes, will help to keep the car stable.

8. Sight

As the visibility during the winter period is worse, sharp eyes are necessary. First of all, you need to observe the surface of the road. The grip is better on road tracks, especially when the asphalt is seen. What is more, you need to look further as the stopping-distance is longer than usual. If you see the obstacle earlier, it will be easier to stop on time. A good driver needs to see what is happening around him, in front and in the back. Do not concentrate just on the road tracks. A driver who does not see further than his nose may cause danger for himself and for other people as well.

9. Snow is better than ice

If, by accident, you appear on an icy road or a corner from which another car may come, try to find a snowy strip. Even if one wheel is caught by snow, the grip will definitely improve. Winter tires are better working exactly on a fluffy snow. You can even catch the snow inside the corner and reduce the speed if the breaks do not help.

10. Do not be afraid

Fear is the driver’s worst enemy in rally and in real life. If you feel under stress or afraid – maybe you are driving too fast. Try to find a comfortable driving speed and conditions. If something unplanned happens do not get confused and do not panic. This kind of reaction is the worst.

Learn to drive safely on winter and I am sure you will enjoy it.