Traveling in the snow can be a tricky process. Not everyone is able to invest lots of dough into a heavy 4-wheel drive vehicle. I think the hardest part about driving in the snow is trying to watch out for the other drivers. There are many drivers who have little or no experience with winter driving. Here are 8 tips on driving safe in snow.
8. Do Not Use Cruise Control
While cruise control is great for when you have to drive long distances, it isn’t wise to use it during inclement weather. You never know when you might hit a patch of ice or deep snow and lose control of the car. Having your vehicle set on cruise control makes it much harder to gain control of your car when the roads are slick.
7. Keep Your Lights on during the Daytime
This is especially important if your vehicle is white or a light gray. It’s hard enough to see vehicles when the days are dreary, let alone when they blend in the snowy surroundings. Keeping your lights on doesn’t cause you to use more fuel when driving and it makes it much safer to travel. Other vehicles are more likely to notice your presence if your car lights are turned on during the day.
6. Apply the Brakes Gently
Slamming on the brakes is a good way to end up in a ditch or down a snowy embankment. Apply gentle pressure to the brakes, until you are sure that your tires have enough traction to stop without skidding. I let up on the gas when I know I will need to stop soon. Pumping the brakes usually isn’t necessary, unless your car is equipped with the type of brakes that need to be pumped in order to stop efficiently. Gentle pressure that gradually increases is best.
5. Give Yourself Time to Stop Safely
Tailgating is never a good action to practice anyway. This driving technique that some people use can make for some pretty hairy accidents during the winter. It takes multiple seconds for cars to be able to stop on good roads, so make sure you allow yourself plenty of extra room when driving in the snow. This is also something to keep in mind when making a sharp turn as well.
4. Pay Close Attention to Road Signs
Roads are sometimes closed in areas where the snow tends to form deep drifts. Some larger cities close gates that alert drivers to the dangers ahead and there is generally a detour route provided as well. Automated signs might also be placed well before a closed road, so be on the look out for these warning signs when driving through the snow this winter.
3. Keep Your Eyes on the Road
Slick patches on the road are hard to see. Occasionally you will be able to spot a part of the road that doesn’t look quite right. Slow down before you get to the odd patch of road. There’s no need to slam on the brakes, but at least let up on the gas pedal. Watching the road at all times is the only way to see what dangers might be ahead. You never know when an accident might suddenly occur in front of you as well. Be on the lookout for the many road hazards snow produces.
2. Go at a Comfortable Speed
If drivers on the highway want to zoom past me, I let them. I see no reason to speed up and drive at their speed when they can go around me safely. Traveling on roads that don’t have a passing lane means you might need to pull over to let people pass. This tactic is much better than driving fast enough to make everyone else happy, when it causes you to be uneasy.
1. Take Corners Slowly
I sort of mentioned this one earlier when talking about applying the brakes gently. Going around corners at a slower speed is necessary during snowy weather. Tires have a lot less traction and zooming around a corner well past the speed limit will often cause you to end up in a ditch. It’s better to take a corner at a speed that is lower than the actual speed limit and be safe than it is to hope for the best as you skid around the curve.
I try to follow the tips listed above and I also don’t pass snow plows. Even though they have a tendency to toss sand and salt at my car, I’d still rather be behind one than in front of one. These vehicles might be going extra slow, but at least they are digging a nice path for my car to travel through! Can you think of anything else that can be added to this list of 8 tips on driving safe in snow?
Top Photo Credit: dahowes