Driving in the snow is significantly different than driving on dry and even wet pavement. There are several tips for making the ride easier and safer, but one tip is the most critical: Beware of the other guy on the road who doesn’t do well in snow.
Here are several reminders to consider when driving in the snow.
When driving in Chicago after a few snowstorms most drivers adjust their techniques and have no problem driving through 6-8 inches of snow. However, regardless of the number of snowstorms in San Antonio, most drivers are petrified to drive when snowflakes fall, even with no accumulation.
You never know when someone from a warmer climate is driving in the Chicagoland area and has no clue how to adjust. These people become extremely dangerous and should be given a greater cushion of distance.
EXTEND FOLLOW DISTANCE
The three-second rule works well for keeping your distance from the car in front of you with dry pavement conditions. A light rain requires four seconds and snow 8-10 seconds. When the car in front of you passes a landmark you can count one-one thousand, two-one thousand, etc., and as long as you get to the same marker in the proper count you’re in a good driving position for emergency stops.
Some SUV drivers shorten their stopping lengths because they believe their four wheels drive vehicle can make up for the conditional differences. However, when you drive faster it sends a signal to the guy behind you that the road conditions are safer, which encourages them to reduce their stopping distance and possibly find themselves rear-ending you because their car couldn’t handle the conditions.
FULL GAS TANK
The heavier the vehicle, the less sliding is likely to happen. Keeping your gas tank full increases the amount of weight for those wintery drives. It also helps keep the fuel lines open when temperatures drop below freezing. Freezing lines is due to the amount of moisture that might accumulate in the tank over time, which gets pulled through the lines when gas gets below a half a tank.
LOOK AND STEER WHERE YOU WANT TO GO
There is a funny fixation that happens to some drivers. When they head toward an accident they tend to look right where they don’t want to crash. By simply turning their head to another direction and following with the steering wheel the number of participants in a collision is reduced. Always look and steer where you want to go and avoid looking toward the crash site.
ACCELERATE AND DECELERATE SLOWLY
Snowy conditions require a gentler touch on the gas pedal and brakes. Accelerating slowly is the best way to avoid loosing traction and the type of wheel spinning that moves the car sideways. The best method to avid skidding and regain traction is to drive your vehicle like you have a VIP in the backseat who doesn’t want to be jostled. This slower use of the pedals not only makes the ride safer, it will be one of the smoothest rides you’ve had.
GET USED TO CLICKING BRAKES
Icy roads facilitate the spinning and sliding of tires. During braking anti-lock brakes typically sing as the tires shift from traction to ice and back again. ABS brakes will vibrate a bit when you press hard on the pedal to stop sliding. The clicking noise is caused by the ABS brakes rapidly braking and releasing to slow the car without the brakes locking up.
DON’T POWER UP OR STOP ON HILLS
Bringing your car to a complete stop on an icy hill is sure to lock up your brakes and allow gravity to push your car back down the hill as it slides over the ice. Also, when a car is moving up a hill additional acceleration will hinder the climb, but forethought and momentum from the previous hill will allow you to overcome the next hill.
Driving slower and planning on what technique to use before you approach various conditions will help keep your vehicle moving during extreme winter conditions. And, always keep your eyes out for the guy who doesn’t know how to drive on snow and ice covered roads.