4 easy tips on driving safely in the snow and ice during these last few groundhog-informed winter days
If you’ve ever been caught in a snowstorm while driving then you know it can be scary. Slippery snow and driving don’t seem to mix very well. However, truth be told, driving in slippery conditions isn’t absolutely dangerous if you take a few precautions. Pay attention to the next four items and you will cut your risk while driving in driving snow down a great deal.
- Don’t Drive Too Fast
It’s simple: driving too fast is the biggest snow driving error. Drivers have a bad habit of thinking that once they’ve reached the highway they’re fine to drive at their usual high speed. This is a bad idea when it’s snowing. Driving too fast reduces the amount of time you have to react and it takes four to 10 times longer to brake on snowy pavement than it does on dry asphalt. Best thing to do is simply slow down.
- Following Too Closely
Many people inexperienced with driving in the snow make a bad habit out of driving too close to the vehicle in front of them. Like driving too fast, this lessens your reaction time if there’s someone in front of you and you need to slow down suddenly.
It’s recommended that you double or triple your normal distance between cars when the weather is snowy. To put it another way, for every 10 mph you’re traveling, you should give yourself four car lengths of space. You should also be looking ahead for stoplights, stop signs and curves in the road so you can give yourself adequate time to brake or steer around them.
- Not Being Prepared for the Snow Season
The most dangerous day to be on the road is the day after the first snowstorm. Drivers haven’t prepared their cars for the wintry weather and they’ve almost certainly forgotten their snow driving techniques. You’ve probably heard the adage: “It’s the other guy I’m worried about”. This is a good example of that when this is quite true because you might be ready but they might not be.
As far as being ready yourself, first check that each of your tires has at least a 6/32-inch tread. If you live in an area that gets a lot of snow, consider purchasing snow tires. Inside your car have a snow shovel and kitty litter (or sand) for digging yourself out and giving your vehicle traction. Flares, a flashlight and a snow scraper should also be kept in your car.
- Thinking Your All-Wheel Drive Makes You Invincible
While vehicles with four-wheel drive usually do better in snowy and icy driving conditions, this can backfire by giving drivers a false sense of security. All-wheel drive is used to send a specific amount of power to each of your car’s four tires to give it added traction. That doesn’t mean, however, that you can stop any quicker! You will skid just as badly as any other car if you start to skid.
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