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Tips on Driving in Snow and on Ice

Niseko is a popular winter destination for skiers and snowboarders, thanks to its unique climate which brings in consistent, heavy snowfall.

These amazing conditions can present a hazard off the mountain, however, and those who are unaccustomed to cold-weather driving may struggle on the roads here.

We’ve put together our top tips on how to stay safe when driving in and around the snowy Niseko region.

Car Snow
Visibility is key when driving...

1. Clear your vehicle of all fresh snow

This includes your lights, number-plate, mirrors and roof (windows should go without saying!) Once you start driving, any remaining snow could fly off onto a vehicle behind you, blocking their vision, or slide down onto your own windscreen when you break, so it is imperative to be thorough with your snow clearing.

2. Remove any ice clinging to the wheel arches and on the door sills

This prevents damage to the vehicle. Ice can force the metal in the corners of the doors to bend, as well as cause premature wearing of the tyres. Ice on the wheel arches can also inhibit the driver’s ability to steer, which is a huge safety issue. Chip or kick ice out of your wheel arches before attempting to drive.

3. Give yourself and the drivers in front and behind you plenty of space to stop

Never brake suddenly, instead drive slowly and carefully and “tap” the brakes, rather than holding them. Using the gear to downshift as well as tapping the brakes is a safe way of decreasing speed and maintaining control. Even if you've managed to slow down in time for a turn, check your mirrors as the vehicle behind may not have gained traction and could be slipping toward you. It is important to remain constantly vigilant of all other drivers around you.

4. Be aware of the conditions before starting your journey

If it's been warm during the day but temperatures have dropped come evening, the roads are likely to have turned to black ice. Hard packed fresh snow can also be as slippery as ice, so plan accordingly and always drive slowly.

5. Be aware of the red arrows above the side of the roads

These illuminated arrows hanging overhead indicate where the edge of the road is when visibility is poor. They are particularly helpful when thick snow is falling, or a blizzard is blowing snow across the roads. Stay on the inside of these arrows and you should be safe.

Snowy Niseko
Snowy Niseko and the glorious Mount Yotei

Driving in Niseko is one of the easiest and most convenient ways of getting around. There is free parking at the ski lifts, and driving is a quick way to travel between resorts and to the town of Kutchan, which has many shops, restaurants and karaoke options. Forget waiting for the bus - why not rent a vehicle and explore Niseko at your own leisure?

Book Your Vehicle Hire Here

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