Top 5 Tips For Driving Snow And Winter Conditions
If you are going to be out and about in your car this winter, you will need to learn how to drive in snow. Driving on snow or ice is more dangerous than when it's dry out but you can significantly reduce the risk of an accident or incident by following a few basic principles. Taking a class to learn how to drive in the snow is not required in most places so you're left on your own to get the tips you need.
Below are my top 5 tips for driving in snow.
1. Make sure your car is safe
Winterizing a car isn't complicated but is often overlooked. Make sure that your car is up to the task before you even consider driving in snow conditions. This is important. You can have all the skill in the world but if your vehicle isn't safe you have a far greater chance of being involved in a collision. Take the time and have your car checked over. You should also make sure you car can handle the snow. Typically, front wheel drive cars will perform better in snow, ice and freezing rain than rear wheel drive. Two wheel drive pickup trucks for example are often not well suited to driving in bad weather.
2. Drive the speed limit
When you are driving in snow, there is much less friction between your tires and the road than there is in dry conditions. The faster you go, the longer it takes to stop and the greater your chance of losing control. It's easy to be over-confident in winter conditions but things can change fast. Drive at a safe speed, typically well below the limit if snow conditions are present.
3. Stop spinning the tires!
The typical reaction for a person who gets stuck in snow or ice, is to spin the tires as fast as possible. This usually will get your nowhere and will wear down your tires. Your tires can't gain traction when they're spinning at 50k and the car is stationary. To gain traction you need to slowly accelerate. Very slowly ease on the throttle and when the tires start to spin, ease off. If you're stuck you can try rocking the car back and forth between drive and reverse. This is a great way to break free but do this very slowly as it can damage your transmission.
4. Avoid target fixation
When put into a situation where you're sliding toward an object, most people tend to get "target fixation" which is the tendency to hold on tight and focus on the impending doom rather than focus on how to avert the crisis. Think clearly when sliding, accelerate slowly and turn into the skid. Most people do not want to accelerate when their car is skidding, but it's the most effective way to regain control. Panic braking will continue the skid. Consider taking a winter driving course to learn these techniques in a safe environment.
5. Brake before corners
This is absolutely crucial when driving in snow and ice. Most people tend to brake while in the corner and when you're on slippery ground...it's already too late. Don't wait until your vehicle is in a corner to slow down. Apply the brakes well-before you get to a corner and travel through the corner slowly.
If you live somewhere that it snows even occasionally, it is important that you take the time to learn how to drive in snow. It's not as hard as you might think, but it requires that you retrain your brain and fight what we want to do instinctively. Mastering the art of winter driving can be a tricky endeavour. In many places it only snows for a few weeks per year and it can be difficult to get the practice you need. Take the time to learn how to drive in snow. You and your family will be glad you did!