Driving Safe In the Snow/Ice
The holidays have come and gone, but that doesn’t mean that winter is over. January and February are some of the coldest months, and with the cold weather comes ice and snow. We can’t stop our lives because of weather, so we need to learn how to adapt to it. We all know the rules of the road, but do you know how to navigate through treacherous road conditions?
Safe driving goes back to some simple physics principles. Force, mass, and speed come into play when you’re driving a car. You can’t change the mass of your car, but you can change its speed. Reduce accidents by taking your time on the road.
- Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly: Slow down everything that you do in the car, and eliminate all distractions. Slowly push the gas pedal to accelerate. Slowly moving the tires will help them grab the road and find traction. If you push too hard on the gas, the tires will spin out and you will fishtail. Similar to accelerating, you need to slowly pushthe brakes to avoid skidding on the road. Give yourself extra room to stop by decelerating early and leaving generous space between you and the car in front of you. If you can, avoid coming to a complete stop. It’s easier to get stuck and lose traction if you come to a complete stop. Roll up to red lights in hopes that they will change to green before you stop.
- Drive Slow: You need to maintain control over your vehicle and be extra alert in times of snowy weather. The snow makes visibility difficult and you need to watch out for other drivers. By driving slower, you able to avoid a major catastrophe if you do lose control of the car. It also helps you to react better to bad drivers in the snow.
- Very Slow Turns: Again, slow is the main thing. Taking turns redistributing the car’s weight and force that the car is under. When you slow down, the car has more time to adjust to the change in direction and it won’t be as dramatic of a shift. If not, you can lose traction and control over the car which can take you into oncoming traffic.
- Don’t Power Up Hills: You want to keep a steady speed the entire time. Avoid driving up steep hills if you can, but if you have to take on a hill, remember the same principles as before. Don’t punch the gas pedal. Slowly accelerate, and if you can, get a running start. If you anticipate climbing a hill, don’t start at the base of the hill from a dead stop. It’ll be much more difficult to get the tires to stick to the road. Have a little bit of speed as you approach the hill so that you can gently maintain that speed on the way up.
- Don’t Use Cruise Control: You should never use cruise control in rainy or slippery conditions. Cruise control doesn’t let you respond as quickly to incidents in the road, which makes it more likely that you’ll lose control of the vehicle. Keep a steady foot, with your heel on the floor and light pressure with the ball of the foot on the pedals.
- Have Tools in Your Car: You don’t want to get stuck in an embankment with no way to get out. Have a few things tucked away in your trunk for emergencies. For snow, you should have an ice scraper, a snow brush, kitty litter, and a small shovel. You may have to dig your car out of deep snow with the shovel. Brush and scrape your car so you can see through the windows. The kitty litter is great for helping you find traction to get your rolling.
Snow is beautiful to look at and fun to play in, but it can be very dangerous to drive in. If you must drive, the main thing is to slow down your speed dramatically. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination, and leave lots of space in between vehicles. To avoid accidents altogether, the best thing to do is to stay home and enjoy the snow.