Tips for Driving in the Snow - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Tips for Driving in the Snow

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Winter Driving Tips…

 

Everyone's favorite part of winter I'm sure… driving in snow and ice. Many just elect to stay home on "snow days", but most of us don't have a choice. So here are some tips (from car folks) to help you avoid an accident this winter:

 

  1. Have the proper tires. ‘Snow tires' or ‘winter tires' are made for the snow. They have more traction than summer or even all season tires and will help you to not slide around so much.
  2. Vision is key: get some good de-icing windshield washer fluid, have a good ice scraper and it's a good idea to put some new wiper blades on.
  3. ALWAYS clean off the car!! Can't stress this one enough.. take the time and clean the snow off your car before driving it. Also, don't forget to clear the head and tail lights so drivers can see you (also, don't forget to turn them on too).
  4. Know your brakes: If you have anti-lock brakes: Stomp, stay and steer. Stomp on the pedal as if you were trying to snap it off. Stay hard on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle. (A warning: A little bit of steering goes a very long way in an emergency.) If you don't have anti-lock brakes: push the brake pedal hard until the wheels stop rolling, then immediately release the brake enough to allow the wheels to begin turning again. Repeat this sequence rapidly. This is not the same as "pumping the brake." Your goal is to have the tires producing maximum grip regardless of whether the surface is snow, ice or damp pavement.
  5. Don't overdue the steering: If you start to slide in a turn, the natural reaction is to continue turning the wheel-this can make things worse actually.
  6. Black Ice: When in doubt, test it out. If the road looks like it may be slick, lightly hit the brakes to see if you slide. Don't take those turns in full speed. Black ice is one of the most dangerous obstacles in winter driving.
  7. Know your roads: Before making the journey, think about where you are going and what spots in town tend to get icy. Bridges and overpasses get icy easily, as do intersections.
  8. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  9. Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  10. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  11. Take it slow: Heard of the 3 second rule? Look for a fixed point on the road (ex: a speed sign). When the car in front of you passes it, count (1-1,000; 2-1,000; etc.). You should be passing the speed sign at 3. This is how to determine a safe distance between your car and the one in front of you. In snow and ice, increase it to 9 seconds of safe distance!

 

If your rear wheels skid...

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid...

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck...

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

 

 

 

 

(Sources: National Safety Council, New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, Washington State Government Information & Services, Edmund's, Smartmotarist.com)

 

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