Amelie, Bernardo, Cecilia, Daniel, Elsa… They are given men’s and women’s names, and are designated in strict alphabetical order as they appear. Storms strike a region with different intensities and consequences, but they all have something in common: driving under their effects is dangerous and thus not recommended.
When bad weather strikes, the first advice should always be to avoid driving unless really necessary. And if there’s no alternative, there are certain recommendations before and after taking to the road.
. Better more than less. Beside ascertaining that the vehicle is in perfect condition, and after checking road conditions, one of the key rules before setting off is to check the gas tank. Being stuck without fuel is never good news, but in the middle of a storm it can have fatal consequences.
. And just in case… A blanket, food, water and a fully-charged cell phone. You need plenty of supplies if there’s a chance of getting stuck on the road.
. Bring chains. And know how to apply them. It’s very possible that they may be necessary, especially in mountainous areas.
. As always, but more so now. If under normal circumstances you should respect the speed limits and the distance between cars, it’s even more necessary when driving under adverse weather conditions.
. Short or long? Beside trying to drive smoothly and with no sharp braking, the experts advise using higher gears when there is snow or ice. The reason? These gears prevent the wheels from spinning and slipping. Only in the case of driving downhill is it a good idea to shift into lower gears to take advantage of the braking provided by the engine and not having to step on the brakes.
. Careful with the wind. You can’t see it but you can feel it. And on the highway, the wind can be deadly. Some of the places where a vehicle is most liable to strong gusts of wind are when leaving a tunnel or a bridge.
Above all, stay calm. Calmness and common sense are the best traveling companions in these conditions. Forgetting about speed and paying attention to the traffic authorities is doubtless the best overall advice.