Winter driving can be a challenge, especially on snow-covered and icy roads. However, following a few simple rules can help you arrive at your destination safely. Here are nine tips to improve your winter driving skills:
Drive Super Smoothly
Smooth driving is the key to safe winter driving. Abrupt movements with the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes can easily cause the tires to lose grip on the slippery road. Therefore, making deliberate, gentle, and gradual movements with the controls is crucial. Drive as if there is a cup of scalding coffee in your lap, and avoid sudden movements.
Look Far Ahead
When driving on slippery roads, it is important to look far ahead and anticipate what you’ll need to do next. Slow down well before turns and allow extra stopping distance when the road is wet, snowy, or icy. Winter driving requires extra concentration, so focus on the road ahead.
Heed the Flashing Lights
Most modern cars have stability-control systems that help you maintain control on slippery roads. One way to know if your tires are losing grip is to pay attention to the small amber light in your instrument cluster. If the light is blinking when you are accelerating in a straight line, it means that the wheels are slipping. When turning and you see a blinking light, it means that the car is starting to slide. When this happens, ease up on the accelerator until you regain grip.
Look Where You Want to Go
If you feel your car is beginning to skid, always look where you want to go, not where the car is heading at that moment. Let your peripheral vision take care of whatever you’re trying to avoid. This technique is used by racing drivers who know that you almost always end up where you are looking.
Deal with Skids
Skids can be managed, and you can bring your car back under full control with the right technique. If you experience a front-wheel skid, ease off the gas and aim where you want to go. For a rear-wheel skid, quickly turn the steering wheel in the same direction as the rear is sliding, ease the accelerator, and stay off the brakes. Keep your wheels pointed in the direction you want to go.
Use Your Anti-Lock Brakes This Way
If you must stop quickly in snow or ice, engage your car’s anti-lock brake system (ABS). Push the brake pedal down hard, and don’t let up. Based on the available traction, the computer will keep each wheel braking as aggressively as possible. Most ABS systems because the brakes pedal to shudder when activated, so don’t lift off the brakes when you feel this vibration.
Use Winter Tires
Winter tires can provide better traction on snow and ice than all-season tires. They are designed with softer rubber and deeper tread to provide a better grip. Install winter tires on all four wheels for optimal performance.
Keep Your Car Maintained
Regular maintenance of your car is crucial for safe winter driving. Ensure your car’s battery, brakes, and wipers are in good condition. Check the tire pressure and ensure the coolant and wiper fluid is topped up.
Carry Emergency Equipment
When driving in winter, it’s essential to carry emergency equipment such as a blanket, shovel, flashlight, and extra warm clothing. Keep a fully charged mobile phone and a charger in your car in case of emergencies.
Beware all wheel type:
Be cautious when driving a vehicle with all-wheel or four-wheel drive on snowy roads. Although they distribute power to all four wheels, these systems can create a false sense of security by providing impressive acceleration on slippery surfaces, which may make you feel like you have more control than you do. It is important to remember that these systems do not improve your vehicle’s ability to turn or stop on snowy roads. When you apply the brakes or turn the steering wheel, your vehicle will react the same way as any other vehicle.
Carry the right supplies:
Carrying the right supplies with you when driving in the snow is essential to help you in an emergency. By carrying the right supplies, you’ll be better prepared to handle unexpected situations when driving in the snow. One of the most important supplies you should have is a snow shovel to clear any snow accumulating around your vehicle.
Additionally, you should carry a bag of salt to provide traction on slippery surfaces and a tow strap in case you get stuck and need to be pulled out. It’s also wise to prepare your tow eye by screwing it into a threaded socket so it’s readily available if you need to attach a tow strap to your vehicle. Ensure you don’t stack your cargo on top of the tow eye or any other necessary supplies, as you may need them during your trip.
Winter Driving Gear Options
Winter driving can be difficult, but various products are available to help you tackle the snow and ice. This section will examine three popular options: winter tires, snow socks, and snow chains.
Winter tires are designed to offer better performance in wet, icy, and snowy conditions than standard summer tires. While they may not be able to handle very deep snow, they can significantly improve your car’s grip in adverse weather. Although not legally required in England, they are recommended for those who live in areas regularly affected by harsh winter weather. Make sure to check if you need winter tires in your area.
Snow socks are a cheaper alternative to winter tires and can offer extra grip on snow. They are useful to keep in your car in case of unexpected snow, such as when taking a back road that hasn’t been cleared. They can also be handy for tackling a snowed-in driveway. Snow socks are easier to fit than snow chains but unsuitable for deep snow. Remember to remove them when the road is clear again.
Snow chains offer the best grip in snowy conditions and are best suited for deeper snow. They are more time-consuming to fit than snow socks but offer superior performance. However, they must be removed when driving on a clear road or when the snow clears, as they can damage your car and the road. Snow chains are mandatory in some countries, so check local regulations if you plan to drive in snowy areas.
Driving in snow requires extra caution and preparation to ensure your safety on the road. It is important to remember that winter weather can be unpredictable and can change quickly, so always check the weather and road conditions before setting out on a journey. Adjust your driving style to the conditions and maintain a safe distance from other vehicles. By staying alert and prepared, you can successfully navigate snowy conditions and arrive at your destination safely.