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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Beware Snowdrops Behind the Wheel

All over the world a snowdrop is a small flower which comes out with the first warm sun when the snow has melted. But in Moscow -- and throughout Russia -- a snowdrop, or podsnezhnik, is also a nickname for drivers who never drive during the winter season and venture out only with the spring. So if you notice one day that the number of cars on Moscow's streets has suddenly increased -- it means spring is really here.


Because of this, I tend to be more cautious on the roads during the first weeks of the new season: All these snowdrops need time to get their driving skills back up to scratch.


There are a number of things you can do to avoid accidents:


Be very careful when you step on the brakes: The driver following you could be a snowdrop whose reflexes have got a bit rusty during the winter and whose car's braking system may not have been properly tested during its long period of storage in the garage. He could easily run into you, leaving you requiring expensive repairs to the back of your car.


If you are waiting at a traffic light and see in the mirror that a car behind you is approaching too fast, always be careful to drive ahead a little to give him more space in which to stop.


If you are waiting to turn left, it's particularly important to keep your foot on the brake pedal. If the driver behind you hits your car and you haven't got the brakes on, he can easily knock you into the opposite lane. The car only needs a very small impetus to move several meters.


The end of winter also brings other hazards apart from the snowdrops:


If you are driving along the Garden Ring, don't get too close to the barrier separating the lanes. The dust and dirt left there after the thaw contains a big collection of old nails, pieces of glass and other items that can easily damage your tires.


You should also be on the lookout for children and teenagers in spring time. I don't know what happens to them at this time of year, but they seem to go slightly crazy.


So, if you are passing a bus stop and see a bus coming to a stop, you should be prepared for a couple of teenagers to come rushing off it straight onto the road.


Also, if two of them are crossing the street in front of your car, you can be sure that, first, they won't see you and, second, after they have spotted you, they'll run in opposite directions. You won't know whether to drive left or right to avoid them. Just drive as slowly as possible until they are a safe distance away.