If there’s one inclement weather condition that scares the daylight out of me, it’s snow and ice. Living where I do, we don’t get snow very often, so we don’t really have a lot of experience driving in it, and that alone can make for a disastrous event. Even if you’re familiar with driving in snow and ice, you can never be too prepared for the conditions you’ll be faced with, and to some people it’s just not a pleasant experience, no matter how many times you’ve had to do it.
Snowy conditions bring about a lot of possibilities, and knowing how to properly control your vehicle, your nerves, and to apply the proper defensive driving techniques can really save you a lot of trouble while you’re out.
Of course staying in is always the best option during snowy and icy weather, but if that’s just not an option, you’ve found the right post. Here we’ll be going over a few safe driving tips for weather that brings snow and ice, and how to best maneuver through these conditions to maintain safety for both yourself and others.
In any type of inclement weather, your best line of defense is reducing your speed, especially when driving through snow. Your stopping distance is greatly increased due to the slick road, and it’s extremely easy to lose control of your vehicle if you’re going slowly, let alone if you’re going too fast. On top of that, as if the snow wasn’t bad enough, it brings with it ice – black ice especially – and that makes it nearly impossible to maintain control of your vehicle. Have you ever tried to walk on ice? Yeah; imagine that, but with your vehicle. It’s not fun to encounter or deal with, so using continuous caution will help you better maneuver through. If you find your car is fishtailing or sliding, even the tiniest bit, it means you’re going too fast for the conditions, and you should ease off the accelerator.
Seriously…even if you’re confident that you’re the best driver in the world, you’re still not immune to losing control in these conditions. Ice doesn’t care that your tires have awesome traction and that you’ve been driving in this stuff for years. If you don’t do it for yourself, at the very least do it for the other drivers on the road; if you spin out because you weren’t cautious enough, you just may take one of two of them down with you.
Easy On The Brakes
With most of us, I’m sure that immediate and rough braking is our first reaction to our car doing something we didn’t permit it to do. While this is slightly acceptable in perfect conditions, it can really cause an accident during wintery conditions. Brake application – especially hard brake application – is an incredibly common cause of the loss of control in your vehicle; after all, anti-lock brakes don’t work on snow and ice, and your wheels will lock up regardless of ABS during these conditions. Use your brakes if you have to, but always ease into them rather than slamming on the brakes to keep from accidental sliding.
Keep A Safe Distance
This is important during snowy conditions, and is an integral part of both of the previously discussed winter driving tips. As mentioned before, hard braking and even mildly high speeds can cause a loss of control over your vehicle, and if you’re tailgating someone when you lose control, you’re going to run right into them as well, resulting in an accident between you, them, and potentially anyone else who may be around on the road at the time. To avoid this, understand that everything you do on the road takes much longer on a road with snow and ice, and prepare for these occurrences before they even have the chance to happen.
While general driving is something that many of us do subconsciously, driving in winter conditions is an entirely different ballgame. Adjust your thinking so that you are more alert and aware of your surroundings, including other drivers, and practice defensive driving to ensure you’re being as cautious and wary as possible to anticipate not only other drivers, but potential dangers before they become a problem. Remain calm and focused, and don’t take any unnecessary risks.
Turn Into A Slide
If you’re driving in snow and ice, the likelihood of you sliding at some point is very high. While this means you’re going too fast for the conditions, as we mentioned above, it’s helpful to know how to properly handle this if it happens to you. If you begin to slide, turn your wheels in the direction that the rear of your car is sliding, and plan out where you want your car to go based on that. Be careful not to overcorrect and steer your vehicle too far. If that happens, however, you should steer in the opposite direction. Once again, using defensive driving by reducing your normal speed in these conditions will usually save you from seeing if you can properly execute this.
If you know the weather is going to be bad, make sure you have an idea of how bad, and how to plan to make it through your trip without an accident. Of course other drivers will be a factor as well, but having a plan will help to better prepare you for anything that can happen. Make sure everything on your vehicle is in the proper condition to best deal with these circumstances, and pack a safety/emergency kit in case you get stuck out anyway.
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