It seem like a no-brainer, but the key to any successful endeavor is being prepared. When going out in the winter you should always be prepared for cold, for snow and for ice. If you don’t have a winter car kit assembled you should definitely put one together. This video outlines what should be included in your winter car kit.
It’s also very important that you’ve prepared your car for winter. Having a good set of tires is one of the first places to start and this winter tire video highlights the benefits of having good tires. It’s also important that other areas of your car are ready for winter. Be sure to check your battery, cooling system, wipers, lighting system, brakes and fuel system. We’ve outlined what car elements to check and how to check it in this post.
One of the biggest contributing factors to car accidents in normal driving conditions is speed. Naturally, it becomes an even bigger factor in the cold, snow and ice. Following a snowfall you might find that your car accelerates just fine, but that does not mean that your car will stop just fine. Even with the best snow tires money can buy your car will still take much further to stop in snow and ice. Therefore, take it slow and leave plenty of distance between you and other cars. You should double your following distance to 9-10 seconds. It’s also a good idea to allow yourself twice as much distance to stop.
Sometimes getting good traction is counterintuitive
Generally traction control systems help maximize grip and keep you going in the intended direction. There are times, however, when you need some wheel spin to get out of ruts. If your car is stuck in the snow keeping the traction control on will get you nowhere. To rock the car back and forth you should turn the traction control off. Once successfully unstuck you can then turn the traction control back on.
Use your transmission to your advantage
If you’re having a hard time moving or your wheels are spinning, shifting to a higher gear often helps gain traction to get you going. For planned stops, gradually downshifting as you apply the brakes can often slow you down quicker. You can get more vigorous with downshift to avoid an impending accident. In non-accident avoidance scenarios try to be gentle on the transmission, though, since brakes are always cheaper than transmission parts.
Look where you want to go
This tip really applies to all driving situations. You should always look where you want to go. By doing so you’ll find that your body and mind sync and generally move you in that direction. If you look at the parked car there’s a greater chance that you’ll hit it. If you look at the road ahead chances are you’ll stay on the road.
Be light with your inputs
Any quick change to brakes, throttle or steering can unsettle your car. Mashing the throttle will likely spin your wheels, slamming on the brakes will likely lock them up and yanking the steering wheel could spin you out. Therefore you should gently and progressively add throttle, brakes and steering input when driving in snow and ice.
Take Caution on bridges
Bridge decks can be some of the most dangerous spots to drive during the winter. The flow of cold air above and below the driving surface makes them very slippery. Furthermore they’re generally bound by concrete walls on either side contributing to a game of automotive pinball if one ever loses control. Take it slow on bridge decks and don’t make any quick changes to throttle, steering or brakes.
Turn off the cruise control
Using cruise control in snowy and icy conditions is just plain dangerous. If and when the car accelerates to attain the set speed it could do so abruptly and unexpectedly. Abrupt changes in speed or direction can easily unsettle a car and therefore should be avoided at all costs.
Attend a Morrie’s Winter Driving Clinic!
We will be offering a handful of winter driving clinics on top of our Teen Defensive Driving School. Check here to see the current schedule of driving events.