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Driving safely on winter roads

Depending on the weather conditions, driving in Hokkaido during winter can pose a challenge, with roads that are covered partly or entirely in loose or compacted snow, ice (usually called eisbahn or black eisbahn), or slush. Drivers must take extreme caution especially on roads they are not familiar with. While the most important point for safe winter driving is to drive slowly, it also requires special techniques for braking, accelerating, and steering.

On icy roads, sudden braking can cause your wheels to lock, which may cause the car to slide or even spin out of control. You should apply brakes gently and gradually. If your wheels lock up, you should ease off the brake and reapply it slowly to regain control of the car.

Note: If your car is equipped with ABS (anti-lock brake system), heavy braking may cause the system to activate, preventing the wheels from locking up even under braking. In this case, you should not ease off the brake. Keep firm pressure on the brake pedal and use steering to control the car.

Accelerating rapidly on snow or ice can cause your wheels to spin in place and may cause the car to get stuck. You should apply the gas gently and progressively. You should also avoid sudden acceleration while in motion as this may cause the car to spin out of control dangerously.

Abrupt steering maneuvers, or steering while accelerating on winter roads can cause your car to lose grip and skid or spin out of control. You should avoid sudden movements of the steering wheel especially when accelerating or braking.