You wake up one morning to see that it snowed a few inches overnight. You don't particularly like driving in the snow, but you have some important errands to do. So you decide to back the car out of your carport and get those errands checked off the list. How will you handle the added challenges of winter driving?
Getting practice driving in the snow can help you to feel more confident about your abilities to navigate snowy and icy roads. Today, I have five tips for you to follow as you pull out onto the roads this winter.
- Increase Your Following Distance. On snowy roads, you need as much time as you can get to react to slides, skids, and other hazards. So it's best to leave about a car's length between your car and the car ahead of you. Sometimes, just a few extra seconds is all it takes to avoid a sliding car.
- Avoid Stopping on a Snowy Hill. It's best to keep moving up a snowy hill once you get started. If you stop, your car is likely to begin to slide back down the hill. Even if you don't slide, it's still likely to be difficult to get your car moving forward again due to the lack of traction on the hill.
- Don't Use Your Brakes if You Feel the Car Sliding. It seems perfectly reasonable to say that if your car starts to slide on the ice or snow, you should hit the brakes. But hitting the brakes takes away any traction your car's tires may still have, and it can worsen the slide. Try to focus on allowing your wheels to move freely; stop pressing on the gas and gently steer the car in the direction you want it to travel.
- Take it Slow When Applying the Gas and the Brake. As you drive on a snowy road, remember to apply slow, even pressure when pressing the brake or the gas. Slamming your foot down on either pedal could cause a skid.
- Avoid Using Cruise Control. Most cars have cruise control, and it's easy to set it and forget it so you don't have to keep an eye on your speed. But cruise control can spell trouble on a snowy, icy road. It's best to have the ability to manually speed up and slow down at a moment's notice as the road conditions change.
What to Do if You Get Stuck in the Snow
Despite taking all of the precautions above, you may end up getting your car stuck in the snow. To prepare for this situation, have an emergency kit on hand in your car. Be sure your cell phone is charged before going out on the snowy roads so you can connect with someone if you need help. If you get stuck, put on your hazard lights or put out flares on the road to let other drivers know that your car is there.
I think one of the best pieces of advice is that if you don't need to go out after a big snow, you should stay at home for a while. Give the snow plows a chance to get the roads cleared and salted. Safe travels, and thanks for reading. - Alan