Think of this scenario. You have your kids in the car and are off to go shopping on a blistery winter day. You loose control of your car after hitting a patch of ice. The car hits a snow embankment, but you and your kids are okay. Your car though is not so lucky. What could you have done? Snow driving is difficult because of the unknown terrain and the unexpected situations that come up in the road. Here are some winter driving tips to prepare you for the unexpected and protect you and your family this winter.
Winter driving tips:
- Avoid driving while you are tired or fatigued.
- Make sure your tires are properly inflated. Remember that cold air condenses the air in your tires. Check your owner’s manual for the proper air pressure.
- Never warm up your car in a garage or other enclosed area.
- When driving on wet, ice, or sand covered roads, do not use cruise control.
- Remember to look and steer in the direction you want to go in. It sounds simple, but people often miss hazards when not being attentive.
- Check your tires and make sure the right ones are on your car. Never mix radial tires with other tire types or mix brands of tires.
- Make sure you buckle up your kids safely and secure your own seat belts every time.
- Avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
- Keep your gas take half full to avoid freezing.
Tips for driving in the snow:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads, so start braking early for stoplights and stop signs. Keep at least three car lengths between you and the car ahead of you to give you time to stop. Accelerate slowly to avoid skidding.
- Drive slowly. Accelerating, stopping, turning, parking, braking – everything takes longer, so give yourself more time.
- Increase your safe driving distance from 3 seconds to more than 10 seconds. This extra safety space will help you make better decisions, but also react appropriately.
- Brake appropriately. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm pressure on the break. Never pump your brakes or slam on your brakes, you never know how your car will react on slippery roads.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. It is difficult to accelerate on an icy road from a stopped position. It is better to roll slowly and then accelerate as it uses less energy by taking advantage of inertia. Of course this is a technique that is only useful when conditions are correct. Use your best judgment when on the road.
- Use inertia when going up hills. Apply extra gas when on level roads before going up hill. Take advantage of the cars weight and let inertia propel you up hill. Applying extra gas on an icy road will cause your tires to spin out. Also, make sure to not stop on a hill as it will be difficult to start up again or you may slide back down and loose control on an icy road.
The best driving in icy or winter conditions is to not drive at all. Make sure it is an imperative to drive before going out on the road. Do you have a driving tip? Leave a post or tell us your story.