If you live in an area where you get a lot of snow in the winter months, you know how challenging it can be sometimes to drive safely.
- The best defense for winter driving is to make sure your vehicle is well maintained and you have the right tires for the job. There’s nothing worse than breaking down or getting stuck during a winter storm. Check your windshield washer fluid and your oils to make sure they are all topped up.
- Take it slow with the gas peddle. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Slower is best for accelerating to gain traction and it helps to reduce skids in the snow. Watch ahead of you and if the light is going to turn red soon, slow down sooner than you would on dry pavement. You have to consider the slippery snow and the ice will make your stopping time slower.
- Drive slower: on dry pavement, the following distance is normally between 3-4 seconds, but in the winter it’s more like 8-10 seconds. Give yourself time for maneuvering around vehicles that may not be able to start off quickly.
- Know your breaks and how to use them. If you have ABS breaks you normally have to press hard on the pedal and feel them vibrating to know that the ABS is activated. Regular breaks normally work best by slowing applying pressure. Read your owners manual to know how to use the breaks best for your vehicle.
- Sometimes you can’t stop. If you can slow down your vehicle until the traffic light changes without having to come to a full stop, then do that if it’s safe to do so.
- Don’t hit the gas going up a hill. If you apply the gas going up will the wheels just start to spin. Try getting a little momentum before you go up a hill and keep the gas steady until you reach the top. If you take your foot off of the gas you loose that momentum and start to slide down. Once you reach the top, that’s when you can reduce the amount of gas you’re applying.
- If you are stuck in a snow storm, leave your emergency flashers on so traffic that needs to get by can see you. It makes it easier for emergency vehicles or the tow truck to spot you. Using your emergency flashers when you are driving in a blinding snow fall is also a good idea. Sometimes cars approaching your don’t see your normal lights and could hit you from behind.
Successful snow driving is about good planning. Plan to leave earlier on your trips. Make sure you have a blanket, small shovel and emergency kit in the vehicle at all times. A candle is a good idea in case you get stuck for hours waiting for a tow truck. In a small space like your car, the heat of a candle may be enough to keep you from freezing.