Driving in Snow and Ice in Belgium

Handy tips on driving in winter, with information on how to drive in fog, snow and ice, as well as links to information about road conditions...

Though the weather in Belgium is relatively mild, winter driving, especially in the Ardennes, can involve snow and icy conditions. A vehicle is affected by the cold and snow and should be well-prepared.

Drivers in Belgium can expect to encounter rain, fog, frost and snow during the winter months.

Breakdowns

Drivers subscribe to a roadside assistance program in case of a vehicle breakdown. Roadside assistance is often included in the purchase of a new car, so newer cars may already be covered.

Traffic Conditions

Traffic information can be obtained from the following:

Precautions for Driving in Ice and Snow

Even if there is no snow on the road, be aware of the temperatures: black ice can linger all day in sheltered places, causing hazardous driving conditions. If the temperature is below freezing, ice may melt if it is exposed to the sun, and ice that is not exposed to the sun will not melt even though the temperature may be above freezing.

  • Plan the route and check the weather and traffic before leaving
  • Even if it is not snowing, check for wind; in exposed areas the wind can blow enough snow across the road to close the route
  • Try to keep the fuel tank full; if a road is closed a diversion may be necessary
  • Most major garages supply and fit snow tyres. These are specially adapted with a thicker tread and improved performance in cold conditions
  • Snow chains are relatively inexpensive but are invaluable. Before the trip, read the instructions and do a trial run of putting them on. Keep a pair of gloves with the chains; hands get cold very quickly
  • Always reduce speed in bad weather
  • Drive with lights on (low/dipped lights if driving in snow)
  • When driving in snow, try to drive in as high a gear as possible to avoid wheel spin
  • When driving in snowy conditions, it is imperative to drive slowly and leave plenty of room between vehicles. Avoid sudden movements of the steering wheel, and sudden acceleration and deceleration
  • If it is necessary to brake quickly while driving in the snow, pump the brakes quickly (even on vehicles with Anti-lock Braking Systems) to maintain control
  • If, when braking in the snow, the vehicle begins to skid, turn into the skid and stop braking. This may allow the driver to regain control of the vehicle
  • In very cold weather, park indoors if possible. Otherwise, park facing downhill leaving the car in gear or Park, and with the handbrake off (it can freeze)
  • In the winter time, always keep a blanket, food and water in the vehicle

Precautions for Driving in Fog

As fog can alter the perception of speed and distance, it is important to slow down and drive more defensively.

  • Drive with lights on, and if visibility is very poor, use fog lights
  • Use the windshield wipers to clear accumulated mist off of the windscreen
  • Check the speedometer occasionally, as fog can distort the perception of speed and the vehicle could be going much faster than it seems

Further Information

  • For some useful driving tips on driving in snow or fog see website DriversDomainUK