Yes, we are really nervous

More than half of those who responded to a new survey say that they sit with their hearts in their throats in slippery road conditions.

It has been the purest wild west on Norwegian roads recently. As usual, the reason is precipitation combined with freezing temperatures and unprepared drivers. It’s a cocktail that creates chaos.

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Now, of course, no one likes to drive on smooth surfaces, but some are safer than others, even when the surface becomes more challenging. Two keywords here are experience and skill.

‒ We would have benefited from refreshing our skills on slippery winter roads, says Bård Morten Johansen, subject manager for traffic safety at Trygg Trafikk.

He has seen the figures from a survey carried out by Norstat for Frende, and in it as many as 56 per cent answer that they are afraid of slippery roads.

It is bad news for many of those who have been on the roads recently. Snow, sleet and freezing rain have resulted in soapy roads across large parts of the country.

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‒ Smooth driving is today called a safety course on a track and should provide an understanding of the risks of driving on slippery roads, explains Johansen.

‒ This is not like the more skill-oriented smooth driving courses from before, but it is clearly not enough to ensure that people handle the road without being afraid. If people had trained regularly on smooth roads they would have become safer, but for many this is difficult because most of the driving takes place on bare roads due to salting.

He is supported by the head of motor engineering in Frende, Roger Ytre-Hauge.

‒ A smooth driving course as a new driver does not make you feel confident about smooth driving year after year. Many people are mostly used to city driving and are rarely exposed to shiny roads, says Ytre-Hauge.

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Now Frende didn’t need a survey to realize that Norwegian motorists feel less comfortable on slippery roads, because the injury statistics also show that.

– Many people only notice the slippery road when they drive on it early in the morning, and wake up suddenly. I understand that it’s scary and difficult to adapt at the second. But you have to change your driving when it gets colder. You can’t drive like you did on a dry July day now, points out Ytre-Hauge.

The survey shows that there is actually a difference between the parts of the country.

– Residents in Vestland are the most stressed, while those in Møre and Romsdal have the most peace of mind, says Ytre-Hauge.

Fear, which many people feel when driving on slippery surfaces, can be a good thing. But not always.

‒ If slippery roads make you more alert, fear is useful. But if you are paralyzed by fear, you become a worse driver. It is important to find the balance, says Johansen at Trygg Trafikk.

– I am surprised every year when I see experienced drivers making the same mistakes as the year before. We see a lot of people who forget to change their tires before it’s too late and who come at an intersection at high speed. Many people also forget to look in the mirror when braking on slippery roads.

The good news is that it is possible to both acquire skills and experience on a smooth road – in a safe way.

‒ You can contact your local traffic school and ask if there are opportunities for practical courses and guidance. NAF also runs courses aimed at drivers, says Johansen.

The most important thing for drivers traveling on slippery roads is to map how slippery it actually is.

– Those with the most experience can see it, but a good tip is to test the brakes in a place where you are driving alone. Squeeze hard on the brake to get the experience of what it’s like when the grip is worse, says Roger Ytre-Hauge at Frende.

‒ If you do that, it’s easier to see how big a safety margin you need for the car in front when it’s slippery.

Tip: Good advice for driving on slippery roads

  • Make sure you have good and correct tyres
  • Scrape the windows completely free of ice before driving, so that you have good visibility
  • Keep a sufficient distance to the car in front of you
  • Check the lead and adjust the speed
  • Calm down and don’t stress – the most important thing is to arrive safely
  • When you are driving, you should not be busy with other things, such as your mobile phone

(Source: Frende Forsikring)

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