How To Drive Safely in Heavy Snow

Driving Safely in Heavy Snow

If you are you one of those that get scared of driving whenever it snows, then this article is for you. Maybe you see other drivers go past you on a snowy road and wish you were as good a driver as they are.

Have no worries, by the time you are done with this write up you will know just how to drive safely in the snow.

We have come up with nine simple driving rules, that will make driving in the snow much easier for you.

12 Winter Driving Rules To Obey

1. Be Gentle while driving

As simple as this may sound, this is actually really important. Sharp and jerky movements on the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes are not recommended.

This is because such movements can result in the tires losing their grip on the slippery road. To avoid this be as calm and gentle as possible when using the controls.

2. Always Look Ahead

Do not just be concerned with where the car is at the moment, but you have to look far ahead. This is to allow you see what lies in front of you, giving yourself ample time to make a plan on the best maneuver to take.

Do not be too fast when it is time for turns and allow as much as three times the stopping distance. Remember, you can never be too careful and you need to have the utmost concentration on the road.

3. Acknowledge the Flashing Lights

The stability-control system will usually give you a warning when you are beginning to loose traction and it is in your best interest to heed it. It is normally a small, amber, flashing light in the instrument cluster.

To be more precise it is an outline of a car with squiggly lines behind it. So let’s take for instance that you are moving with speed in a straight line and you notice that the light is blinking, it is a warning that your tires are slipping. What you then have to do is reduce your speed so that your wheels can regain their grip on the road.

Let’s say also that you are turning and the amber light starts blinking, that is the stability-control system notifying you that your tires are beginning to move away from the path that you want to tow. Again, reduce your speed so that your tires can regain their grip on the road.

Also bear it in mind that you should always slow down whenever you are making a turn on snowy or slippery streets. This is so as to avoid any unexpected occurrence.

4. Eyes on the Road

When you are driving and you observe that your car has started skidding, make sure to not look in the direction that your car is heading. Your focus should be on the road where you want to go.

Just use your peripheral vision to handle anything you are trying to avoid, but your main gaze should be directed towards where you want to go.

This is one of the reasons why race car drivers recover well from skids.

5. Handle the Skids

Your first reaction when your car skids should not be panic, have it at the back of your mind that it can be handled. So do not go into a panic mode and start jamming the brakes. We will discuss in details the right move to take when your car skids and how to regain control.

In the case of a front-wheel skid, that is in a situation where the front tires lose traction resulting in the car turning in a wider arc than what you anticipated, just ease off the gas.

You will then notice that in a few seconds the front wheels will regain their grip on the road. It is then left for you to redirect the car to the direction that you want to take.

In the case of a rear-wheel skid, that is where the rear tires lose their grip and the car starts to spin, immediately turn your steering wheel in the same direction that the rear is sliding. For instance if your rear is sliding to the right, what you have to do is turn your steering wheel to the right.

Also ease off the accelerator and do not step on the brakes. As soon as the rear tires regain their grip on the road you can redirect your car in the right direction.

Remember to always look in the direction that you want to be going to and not in the direction of the skid. Also if you believe that you can recover without impact then you can gently use your brakes.

If there is no way to avoid impact then it is time to engage your anti-lock-brake system. We will discuss that in more detail below.

6. Engage Anti-Lock Brakes

If you have tried everything and you’ve seen that you will not be able to recover from the skid or that impact is imminent, it is time to use your car’s anti-lock-brake system (ABS).

The anti-lock-brake system (ABS) makes use of an onboard computer to enhance car braking in extreme cases. This is embedded in all new cars.

So if your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock-brake system (ABS) and you feel the need to use it, all you have to do is to step on the brake pedal as hard as you can without letting up.

Once you have done this, the computer will take care of the rest. What it does is that it makes sure that each wheel is braking as aggressively as possible with the traction that is available.

The wonderful thing that you have to know about the ABS systems is that while you are stepping down hard on the brake pedal, you can still maneuver around obstacles.

This is because the computer adjusts the braking force at each wheel so that you will able to move around while slowing down at the same time. Always remember that when you have activated the ABS, you can keep steering.

While it is true that there is nothing that can completely guarantee that you don’t have accidents, the anti-lock brakes system is clearly a really great system to have.

Please note that most ABS systems will cause the brake pedal to shudder when it is activated. There is no cause for alarm as this is just to notify you that the system is working. It will therefore be a very wrong move for you to take your feet off the brakes on account of the vibration.

7. Always Monitor Your Traction

Whenever you are driving in the snow, the traction available to you will keep changing depending on the road and atmospheric conditions on your route. It is good for you to access and be in the know regarding the level of traction that is available to you.

RELATED: Protecting Your Car During Smokey Weather & Extreme Heat

You can do this through the warning lights from the traction-control and stability-control systems. Another way through which you can tell is through your anti-lock-brake system and we will tell you just how.

Firstly ensure that there are no cars close to you that will be taken by surprise when you slow down. Then proceed to step gently on the brakes for a beat or two all the while driving in a straight line.

If by the time you do this, you observe that the brake pedal is vibrating and you feel some deceleration, it means that the ABS system has been activated and that the road is quite slick. If the ABS is not activated when you make that move then be rest assured that your tires have enough traction.

There are some anti-lock-brake systems will notify you with a small amber light in the instrument cluster when the ABS is in use. You can also use this as your clue when you are accessing traction.

8. Be careful if you are using an All-Wheel Drive

If your car is an all-wheel drive or a four-wheel drive, be careful not to be deceived into believing that there is nothing to worry about on slick roads. An all-wheel drive would send power to all four wheels as opposed to just two and if you are not careful you can be lulled into believing that you have adequate traction when that might not be the case.

Always anticipate that it will act like any other car on a slippery road. To be sure of the traction that you have, use the methods described above.

9. Get Winter Tires

Maybe this should have come as the first tip, or maybe it shouldn’t be referred to as a driving tip but rather a survival tip. Ensure that your car is fitted with winter tires also known as snow tires if you plan on driving in the snow.

With the right winter tires, you will have better traction on the snowy roads and have better chances of arriving at your destination safely.

10. Study the Road

Don’t just zoom off without observing the road. Reading the road will give you an idea on how best to navigate. Even if you are already driving, it is not wrong for you to pack and properly access the road.

This will help you make better decisions and better navigate the road. By mere looking at the road, you can tell to an extent, the level of traction that will be available. Shiny road is generally bad because it means either ice or water and you have to be weary of shady spots. If it is dry snow then that is so much better.

RELATED: How To Get Your Car Ready for a Winter Snowstorm

11. Take Advantage of your knowledge of your area

If you are driving in an area that you are familiar with, then take advantage of that. If you already know the terrain then you should already plan your move. For instance have a plan on how to navigate a hill before you even get there.

12. Be equipped with the appropriate Supplies

There is nothing wrong in having the right supplies because you never know when you might be in need of it. Some of the essential supplies especially when you are driving in the snow include a snow shovel, a bag of salt as well as a tow strap. You can also fix up your tow eye.


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