Driving Tips for Winter and Snow
The leaves are starting to change color and the temperature of the day is starting cool. The little white flecks will appear shortly, and with that new driving challenges will be at hand. Let's run through a little check list to make sure you have a fighting chance to come into spring with not a scratch on you or your car.
Tires are your first line of defense when facing the icy conditions of winter. Make sure that you have the tread to make it through the season. There are several favorite ways to check the tread depth of your tires. Take a penny and insert into your tire's tread groove with Lincoln's head down but facing you. If Lincoln's face shows in its entirety, then your tread depth is less than 1/16 of an inch, and replacement tires are in your future.
With your tires are in good shape and before you hit the open road make sure that your view is unobstructed. Let's state the obvious here--remove the snow and ice from your windows, front, back and sides. If snow covers your parked car, take the time to thoroughly brush it off the car altogether which includes the top. Driving through a "porthole" on your windshield is very dangerous and really should not be done.
As you start out on your journey, remember to press the accelerator pedal slowly to reduce the chance of your tires spinning. If you find yourself on slippery snow or ice, consider starting in second gear if you have a manual transmission or with a selectable automatic, so the vehicle is less likely to spin the tires.
Give yourself extra time for your trip. By keeping your speed down will reduce the damage should an accident occur, and you will have more time to react to slipping or sliding. Reduce your speed and drive evenly. In slippery conditions, tires lose their grip more quickly, affecting all aspects of your driving including braking, turning and accelerating.
Remember to keep enough space between you and the vehicle in front. You will need more distance to stop safely. Apply a firm, but gentle pressure to the brakes and start to brake sooner than you usually would in dryer conditions to give yourself extra time to come to a safe stop.
If your vehicle has an anti-lock brake system (ABS), then you want to keep firm pressure on the brake pedal even though you may feel shuddering and the pedal giving way under your foot...this is the system doing its job correctly. Don't remove your foot...keep pressure applied until you stop completely. If you happen to have a vehicle without the anti-lock brakes, you will want to "pump" the brake pedal very gently to keep from skidding and sliding. This action prevents the tires from locking up--you are the ABS!
In these wintery conditions, asking a vehicle to do more than one thing at a time may cause you to lose control of your vehicle. Turning on an icy roadway can be dangerous if you perform a sudden action such as applying your brakes or turning too quickly. Touch the brakes firmly when the vehicle is going straight is your preferred choice. Any sudden maneuvers can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.
All-wheel and four-wheel-drive vehicles are great, but they too are of little use on an icy road. They provide no benefit when braking or cornering. They are helpful to get you moving from a stopped position because of the extra traction.
And finally, watch out for the other guy! Others may not be driving as guardedly as you, leave extra space, avoid abstractions, and be predictable, use your signals to let others know your intentions.
Having a great winter driving experience begins with you!