We’re coming to the end of the ski season in Europe now and despite record snowfalls this year, everything has been looking quite bare over the last few weeks. That might be to the detriment of the hardcore skiers, but the Alps and the Pyrenees are still expecting a big influx of walkers, hikers and mountain bikers over the summer months, many of whom are travelling by motorhome or campervan. If you’re planning a trip to a mountainous area where there might be snow then you need to think about how you’re going to make your trip safe. Here are a few tips for driving in the mountains…
Chains or Tyres
Whether you expect snow or not, it is essential to either pack snow chains appropriate for your motorhome or to invest in a set of spiked snow tyres. Even though European authorities are usually very good at clearing roads, the weather can change quickly and you still need to carry chains or be equipped with the proper tyres. Travelling to areas with a risk of snow without the right equipment is criminal and you may find your motorhome insurance policy is invalid without them.
When snow melts at low temperatures, there is always a risk of it refreezing as ice. When travelling in areas where there may be ice it’s important to keep in low gear and minimise the revolutions of your tyres. In too high a gear you may find yourself spinning and losing stability, both of which are very dangerous in a motorhome with a high centre of gravity.
The final risk when travelling in the mountains is the risk of falling snow or, worse, hail. Due to the altitude, the weather can change very quickly and if you find yourself in poor visibility conditions you need to be prepared. Here, topping up your screen wash and ensuring your wipers are working well is imperative but remember – don’t take any risks: if you can’t see, don’t drive.
Even if you’re expecting a few weeks walking in the sunshine, there’s always a risk of snow in the Alps or Pyrenees and many motorhome drivers have been caught out. Go prepared and make sure you travel safely!