Police warn motorists of the danger "igloo cars"

Motorists in much of the country, including the capital Helsinki, have had to dig their cars out of pits after a snowstorm that pours half a meter or more of snow into some areas.

Not everyone was apparently fit for purpose. For example, the police announced on Wednesday that they would meet a motorist in Tuomarila, Espoo, which they described "igloo car" when the windshield has been cleaned only to provide a hole small enough.

They warned against the practice and pointed out that the windows must be completely cleaned to ensure safe visibility, especially for pedestrians approaching sidewalks.

Yle asked Jouko Kalliola, a driving instructor and CEO of The Hague Driving School in Helsinki, tips for removing cars under snow and on the road safely.

His first piece of advice is to think about parking.

"Whenever possible, try to park your car so that no other vehicle can get in front of it. It leaves you space in front, which makes it easier to pull," Kalliola advised.

While the other vehicle is not blocking the space in front of the car, a snow plow has filled it with snow. To deal with such a situation, Kalliola said it is good to always keep a shovel in the boot.

"It is an invaluable tool this year," he said quite rightly.

The story continues after the picture.

A shovel is probably needed to get this car on the road.Kristiina Lehto / General

And no one shovels. As the temperature drops and the waves freeze solid, a small plastic shovel will not work.

When the car is sufficiently dug and it is time to start moving, Kalliola recommends taking it slowly and easily and racking the car back and forth a few times.

"Put it in first gear. Lift the switch and move slightly forward, then immediately push the switch in, backward, and then repeat. When you get enough back and forth swinging motion, most cars can start moving," he explained. "The movement must be quite small at the beginning. You have to practice it. And overall, using the accelerator should be pretty light at the start."

It is also a good idea to take the time to clean the snow properly.

"Many people make the mistake of shoveling a little snow off and think they are ready to leave, but then find out that the car is not moving," Kalliola said.

That’s why he advised pouring some snow, especially in front of and behind the tires.

The story continues after the picture.

Snowstorm in Helsinki.13.1.2021.
Helsinki’s street parking can be challenging at best, especially when snow plows have cleared the streets.Jorge Gonzalez / Yle

There were more than a few small accidents at the incident "traffic chaos" in the metropolitan area during this week’s blizzard. As a driving instructor, Kalliola was not surprised.

"Road conditions a couple of days earlier were good. The speeds were the so-called constant speeds. Some drivers did not know that as the snow fell, their speed should also have dropped and safe journeys extended."

Kalliola added that most often when a car leaves the road in snowy weather, the fault is behind the wheel.

"The vast majority [of this week's accidents] could have been avoided by driving at the correct speed and keeping a sufficient distance to the rear of the vehicle being monitored," he said.

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