As winter approaches, AXA expects more accidents on the roads

Bild: Keystone
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Snow is forecast even in low-lying areas in the next few days. This means that drivers need to take special care. According to AXA’s data, the number of accidents doubles on days when road conditions are dangerous. AXA’s accident researchers say that a large number of accidents can be prevented by adapting your driving style and fitting winter tires.

Snow will be falling even in Switzerland’s low-lying areas in the next few days. Children will be delighted, but drivers need to be aware of the dangers that come with the onset of winter in the lowlands, including hazardous road conditions. “On an average day, we record around 400 claims, but this figure can double when a change in the weather takes drivers by surprise,” says Patrick Villiger, Head of Motor Vehicle Claims at AXA.

Adapting your driving style can prevent many accidents

Accidents can happen quickly when drivers are caught unawares by a change in the weather and don’t adapt their driving style to the more dangerous road conditions. The risk of black ice on bridges and on roads through wooded areas increases when the outside temperature falls to 3°C or lower. High humidity or fog can create a film of moisture on the surface of the asphalt, which becomes dangerous at temperatures around freezing point. “Drivers need to be especially careful in conditions like those,” explains Thomas Eichholzer, Accident Researcher at AXA.

Sudden fog causes lots of accidents

Poor visibility poses an additional challenge for drivers. “Rain, snow, and fog reduce your car’s grip on the road, and they often restrict visibility quite severely,” says Eichholzer. Fog in particular can thicken from one minute to the next in some places. “Switzerland’s worst pileups have been caused by sudden fog, but keeping a safe distance and adjusting your speed can help to prevent them,” stresses the accident expert.

Winter tires with plenty of tread should be fitted to your car from October to Easter

To make matters worse, many drivers still haven’t had winter tires fitted to their car by the time the first snow arrives. This, together with failing to adapt their driving style, is one of the main reasons why accident numbers shoot up the moment winter makes an entrance. While not fitting winter tires doesn’t necessarily qualify as gross negligence, Eichholzer strongly advises getting them on your car by the end of October at the latest:  “Winter tires should be fitted to your car from October to Easter.” In addition, the 4x4x4 rule states that you should use four identical winter tires that are no more than four years old and have a tread depth of at least four millimeters. “Winter tires with plenty of tread are essential when it comes to safety,” adds the expert.

If you want to avoid accidents, you should take extra-special care on Fridays between 5pm and 6pm. The Federal Roads Office (FEDRO) says that more accidents happen during this hour that at any other time.


9 tips from AXA’s accident researchers for driving safely in the winter 

  • Check your winter tires – they should have at least 4 mm of tread.
  • Ask your garage to perform a winter check.
  • Keep safety equipment, an ice scraper, and snow chains in your car.
  • Pull away gently (especially on snow or ice).
  • Always look ahead and keep a safe distance from the car in front.
  • Avoid swerving suddenly.
  • Think about weather conditions when choosing your route.
  • Set off in good time and allow plenty of time for your journey.
  • Take regular breaks on long journeys.

Read more on this topic: Survival guide for drivers – how to stay safe on snow and ice

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