Like the rest of the four seasons, winter rains in Pakistan have moved a little further on the calendar and the usual intermittent spells of December have now moved into mid and late January, drenching the south with rains and scattering bulk loads of white misery in the north.
This also kicks off the winter tourist outpour that throngs the more easily accessible Galiyaat regions of Murree while the more ambitious and resourceful head straight to far north.
The mystical and spellbinding beauty of the snow-covered winter forests of the north leave little choice but to visit these hill stations. Driving in winters and on icy roads in particular, often lands these wanderers in trouble for they have little or no knowledge of driving in winters. Simply having a good SUV or a 4x4 cannot ensure your control on the vehicle if you are new to these driving conditions.
Here are a few tips we think can help you get a better control of your vehicle.
1- Choosing 4x4 SUV over a sedan or any other 2-wheel drive can be a life-saver. This also doesn’t go without saying that the driver must be well acquainted with the differential locking and four wheel engagement and disengagement at the right time and place. If you are new to winter driving, DO NOT DRIVE YOURSELF.
2- Weather updates and latest reports should be inevitably on the checklist before leaving. It is better to get latest on the road conditions, type of snow that has fallen and accident ratio if available.
3- It is a good idea to pack a bag of supplies to keep in the car when the snow starts to fall. These should include food and water, warm clothing or a blanket, a torch, a first aid kit, a fully charged mobile phone, jump leads, a shovel, an ice scraper or deicing fluid, and some grit or sand.
4- Usually a thin, transparent layer of ice covers the road in wet conditions, something we at Pakistan Explorer refer to as a “GLASS TRAIL” making it difficult to detect it with naked eyes. Constantly apply gentle brakes to check if there is ice underneath. If the car skids, Beware! You have a Glass Trail underneath.
5- In case you find yourself right on top of a Glass Trail, immediately slow down the car using only the gears. DO NOT APPLY BRAKES ON A GLASS TRAIL.
6- Accelerate and decelerate very slowly.
7- If your car starts skidding on a Glass Trail, do not apply brakes, instead turn the wheel in the direction of the sliding rear of your car. This will straighten up the car allowing better control.
8- The safest way to tread on a Glass Trail is using traction devices like Snow Chains or Wheel Studs etc. However, it is also very important to practice mounting and dismounting of these devices as per the instructions from the manufacturer before trying it in the field.
9- Do not forget to empty your radiator when you have reached your destination. A frozen, clogged-up radiator can be a real hassle next morning.
10- Never Forget to wear your seat belts at all times with kids always tucked up at the rear. If you are a novice to winter driving, it’s safer to hire professional help or stay at home.
Stay Safe Pakistan! :)