Winter Driving in Sapporo and Hokkaido
When it comes to drive a car in winter, it is the most nervous one for locals not only visitors. It is very dangerous in the beginning and end of winter, which means November and March. In the beginning, roads are partly covered with snow, some are dry, others are wet and freeze. Especially after sunset, surface of roads are un-clear and you can’t find them dry, wet or freeze condition. If you find the road black-reflected ahead, it will be an icy road. More, if it was curve, you will not handle it. That’s why you have to slow down your speed less than 40 km/h and prevent to handle and brake quickly. On the other hand, there is much snow in the middle of winter and the road condition is going to be more steady. Snow on the road becomes hard pressed by traffic and you might feel better to drive. The road condition is going to change every second, keep watching it and weather report.
- If the center line is covered with snow, keep left side and slow down. Don’t go over-left, you will crash the icy wall or fall out of the road.
- When you drive on an upslope and it was very slippy, you will have a hard time three times more for a downhill road. Remember you can’t stop your car easier on the downhill.
- If your car could not move on the road due to heavy snow, stop the engine and call 119 or help. Don’t stay behind your car. Somebody might hit your car behind. This is a case for fatal accident. Stay away from your car.
- The crossing is usually very slippy condition. Don’t hit the accelerator. Use second gear and press softly and move slowly.
- Deep wheel track is very dangerous. Even if your speed is under 40 km/h, you might lost your handle suddenly and spin your car to opposite lane.
- Watch the entrance and the exit of tunnels. They must be frozen and slippy. Don’t brake and handle quickly.
- When snow is falling heavily and keep on going, don’t stay in the car as leaving the engine running. You are going to get carbon monoxide poisoning and die. Stop the engine and call 119 and keep yourself warm.
- Don’t use old studless winter tires. If the edge is round even if enough groove on the tire, it is very slippy on the curve or as changing lane. This is very dangerous.
- A gas station is closed earlier in the rural. Charge your tank full before sunset.
- Keep your speed as you feel safe. Ignore if you are rushed by a car behind and keep a distance ahead.