For those not used to driving in snowy conditions, it can be a daunting task. However, if you follow certain rules, it’s not so bad. In fact, some people prefer driving in snow over driving in the rain. Follow these pointers and common sense and you’ll hopefully arrive at your destination unscathed.
When to drive in snow
During a snowstorm, it’s best if you don’t drive at all. Unfortunately, this isn’t always possible. Try not to venture into the harsh weather before the snow plows and sanding trucks have finished clearing the roads. Set out early for your destination and allow for extra travel time since you’ll be driving extra slowly.
How to drive in the snow
If possible, practice driving in the snow in an empty parking lot. That way, you can familiarize yourself with how your car handles in snowy conditions. Also be sure to consult your owner’s manual about driving in bad weather.
When you’re actually on the road, turn on your lights so you have full visibility and, maybe more importantly, so other drivers can see you. Keep your lights and windshield clean so visibility is optimal. Wiping them off is especially important during the winter, as they can cloud up with salt, mud and sand. On the road, leave yourself plenty of room to come to a full stop. There should be three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. When you are ready to come to a stop, brake gently. Ease off your brakes if your wheels lock up.
Drive conservatively and cautiously; go very slow. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on inclines and declines. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks since they have limited visibility. Plus, road conditions are likely much better behind them than in front. Black ice is extremely difficult to spot, so don’t take good road conditions for granted.
Where you should drive in the snow
Stick to frequently used roads and highways that have been plowed, sanded and salted. Use caution on bridges, overpasses and back roads; they freeze first. Even if it’s above freezing temperature, wet areas might freeze in shady areas.
What to drive in the snow
Obviously, it’s much better to drive solid cars with power steering in the snow. Put snow tires on your vehicle and use four-wheel drive, if possible. Remember: Don’t get cocky just because you have four-wheel, all-wheel or front-wheel drive. These vehicles can still have problems in bad weather.
In sum, pick your household’s safest vehicle to drive to work. Only drive if it’s absolutely necessary and use common sense. Conditions might be shaky – branches could fall and there’s the threat of black ice – but you can decrease your chances of an accident by making good decisions.
What to do if you start to skid
You’ve followed all the suggestions, but then you hit a patch of black ice. Your car starts to skid: What do you do? First, take your foot off the accelerator, which will cut your speed immediately and might be enough for you to regain traction. If you don’t, turn your steering wheel gently in the direction the rear wheels are moving. If you start to slide in the other direction, slowly turn the steering wheel in that direction. Repeat as often as necessary until you’re going straight again.
If everything fails and you have a fender bender, you can still count on your auto insurance to help you out. The best time to check out free auto insurance quotes for top coverage is when the roads – and your head – are clear.
Finally, don’t get on the road if you’re tired or have had some eggnog. You want to be alert and wide awake when you’re behind the wheel. Stay safe, keep your eyes peeled and you’ll survive this year’s big snowstorm.