If you aren’t used to driving in snow or ice, then driving during the winter months can be dangerous. The inclement weather, reduced visibility, and icy surfaces on the roads make navigation difficult. However, by following a few basic rules, you can stay safe on icy roads. Here are few things to consider for safe winter driving.
1. Ensure a Gentle and Smooth Drive
2. Don’t Apply Your Brakes While Turning
3. Rely on Your Headlights
4. Don’t Follow too Closely
5. Don’t Rely on Four-Wheel Drive
6. Dealing With a Skid
7. Read Your Surroundings
8. Plan Your Route
9. Avoid Driving as Much as Possible
Ensure a Gentle and Smooth Drive
You need to keep in mind that driving in snow and ice is completely different from driving on dry pavement. It demands a different style of driving which takes practice. When driving on slick roads, make sure to never jerk the wheel or slam on the brakes. Abrupt changes in the attitude of the car may cause its tires to lose the grip on the surface of the road.
Don’t Apply Your Brakes While Turning
If you turn too quickly in the corners and there is ice on the surface, you run the risk of going into a skid. If this happens, your initial response might be to hit your brakes. This technique works on a dry road, but it does not work well on ice. When driving on snow or ice, it is always better to apply your brakes before the turn and take them at a slow speed.
If you go into a skid, let up on the brake and steer into it. Lightly pump your brakes as you straighten out. This will slow down the vehicle. Another way to slow down your car in wintry conditions is to use the gears. Shift down. This causes the engine to reduce the car’s speed so you can regain control.
Rely on Your Headlights
Regardless if it is day or night, you should use your car’s headlights during snowfall. During the day this helps other cars identify you. The general rule is if you need your wipers, then you need your headlights.
Don’t Follow Too Closely
Stay back from the car in front of you, especially during the winter. By extending your following distance, you get extra time to apply the brakes, and you can avoid going into a skid. If the car in front of you loses control, you want plenty of time to avoid hitting them. It only takes a second for them to flip around and hit something.
Don’t Rely on Four-Wheel Drive
A number of people think that they are safe if they have four-wheel drive, but this may not be true. Though you will have more traction on ice and snow with this system, it may not give enough braking power, making cornering tricky. So do not trust four-wheel drive completely. Take it easy on icy and slippery surfaces in order to stay out of a bad situation.
Dealing With a Skid
It is best to test the steering and brakes of your car gently to get an idea of the road’s condition. Pick a clear, straight piece of road; it should be away from junctions. If you hit a slippery road, you will feel that your car starts to skid. In this situation, allow the speed of the vehicle to decrease by itself by taking your foot off of the accelerator. Don’t use the brakes, as it may prolong the skid. In case the car starts spinning while you’re skidding, allow the vehicle to straighten up and steer into the spin’s direction.
Read Your Surroundings
Slow down when approaching a corner. Give yourself plenty of time so you can take it at a constant speed. This will save you from unsettling the car as well as give you enough time to react in case you have to navigate an obstacle.
Plan Your Route
If you draft out your route ahead of time then there are no possibilities of getting lost. Stick to the main roads as much as possible. Such roads are likely to have been gritted or cleared. Be aware of the wheel tracks when driving, especially if the road hasn’t been gritted. The packed down snow is slicker than new snow. Often the side streets are the ones that present the most problem.
Avoid Driving as Much as Possible
It is a good idea to heed the weather report before taking off on a long-distance drive. If possible, delay or cancel trips, especially when bad weather is expected. If canceling the trip isn’t possible, let your family or friends know about your estimated time of arrival to the destination as well as the route. Keep in mind that many hotels will allow you to reschedule a hotel stay without charging a fee. But, a full cancellation under a certain time limit, such as 24 hours, can lead to paying a hefty fee or even the full price of one night.
If you avoid going out during bad weather, you will be safe, as simple as that. Only get out on icy roads when it’s absolutely necessary. Using common sense could save your life and the lives of others.
Winter driving just takes common sense, caution, and experience. Don’t go out unless you have to. Drive slowly and know what to do in case you do lose control on the ice. Whatever you do, DON’T panic! That is often the cause of most accidents on winter roads.