More than 116,000 Americans are injured and over 1,300 are killed on snowy, slushy or icy pavement every winter. It is no wonder, then, that drivers are concerned about how to drive in the snow. The Car Care Council assembled a few crucial points to remember while braving snow-covered roads, and if you follow these tips, you might even look forward to cold weather driving!
Slow, Turn, Go!
A car’s three major capabilities are accelerating, turning and braking. When drivers are able to combine the three capabilities into smooth actions, vehicles are far easier to control. For example, if you’re approaching a sharp turn on a snowy road: first, gently apply the brakes in advance of the turn. After taking your foot off the brake, coast through the corner while turning the wheel. Only after you’ve exited the turn and straightened the steering wheel, gently accelerate. “As easy as that sounds, it’s really hard for most people to put into practice,” says Mark Cox, Director of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School.
Limit Your Speed and Think Ahead
Excessive speed is one of the most common reasons why drivers lose control in the snow. Simply slowing down will give you enough wiggle room to correct your course in case your vehicle loses control. “It takes 4 to 10 times longer to stop in ice and snow,” explains Cox. “Adjust your speed to the conditions, but also remember that going too slow can be just as problematic as going too fast.”
Know How To Correct Your Steering
Should you start to slide… don’t panic! A proper response will ensure that car control is regained. If the vehicle oversteers (i.e., the back end swings out), BSR, Inc. recommends accelerating lightly in order to transfer weight to the rear and increase traction. Conversely, if the car understeers (i.e., slides forward without turning), BSR recommends lifting off the gas and applying gentle pressure to the brakes. In all situations, if you look where you want to go, your hands will follow your eyes and steer away from danger.
Become Familiar with Your Car’s Handling Dynamics
Weight distribution, suspension and drivetrain setups (like front-, rear- or all-wheel drive) affects how your car reacts to adverse conditions, so becoming familiar with your car’s handling dynamics will prepare you for the unexpected. If you can’t attend a driving school and learn about vehicle dynamics from the pros, carefully explore your car’s limits in a safe area.
Keep Your Car Maintained
A reliable car can help avoid a world of complications in winter weather. Make sure your tire pressure hasn’t dipped with the drop in temperature and your vehicle will be easier to control as a result. Install winter wiper blades in order to maximize visibility, and test your battery to make sure it can handle the challenges of cold weather cranking. Take care of your car, and it will take care of you.