It is almost that time of year! Pretty soon we'll be packing our cars with snow shovels, ice-scrapers, and that bag of cat litter in order to helps us stay prepared on the roads this Winter. Of course, preparation ahead of time is one thing, but what about ACTION IN A WINTER EVENT?
How do we safely drive in the ice and snow?
In reality, there is no 100% SAFE way to do so...if at all possible, if a Winter Storm Warning is issued, it is recommended that people stay OFF off of the roadways completely. Of course, this is an unrealistic expectation for people that have jobs that require them to be at work during severe weather, or during emergency situations. So here, we will go over a list of some of the "do's" and "don'ts" of Winter driving.
1) DO STAY HOME (if you can). - no explanation required.
2) DO SLOW DOWN. Your driving speed needs to be well-under the speed limit when driving on snow and/or ice. If it takes you 45 minutes instead of 20 minutes to get to work on a snowy day, SO BE IT. Your speed, lane changes, turns, acceleration, deceleration need to be slower in order for wheels not to spin out. Keep it slow and steady, and break slowly EARLIER so you can maintain control of your vehicle if you do need to stop.
3) DON'T USE THE CRUISE CONTROL. It is much harder to gain back control of a vehicle when the "cruise" is on, because the vehicle will still try to maintain a certain speed even if you start skidding- which will cause the wheels to spin. Slamming on brakes to deactivate the cruise control could also cause harm to the automobile. Avoid cruise in the first place, and you will have less to worry about. If a car skids, is it best to just completely let off of the accelerator and gas until you re-gain control of the vehicle.
4) DON'T PUMP THE BRAKES IF YOUR CAR HAS AN ABS. Any car made after the year 2012 is automatically equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS). If you begin to slide on an icy road, the wheels of your car have sensors that monitor each wheel- ABS will prevent wheel lock-ups (that can be caused by slamming brakes) by automatically pulsating the brake pressure on any wheel when skidding is detected. They do the "pumping" for you- so all you need to do is press firm on the brake and hold. For older vehicles without ABS, you DO need to gently apply and release pressure at a moderate rate in order to avoid jamming the wheels.
5) DO USE YOUR MOMENTUM. Don't try to power up hills, but try to avoid stopping completely (especially on a hill). Again, trying to speed up a hill may only add to spinning wheels. Stopping completely on a hill or before turning in snow can also cause you to get stuck- if you can, just try to have a turtle's pace when going around corners - let the car's momentum gradually move you along if possible.
6) DON'T FOLLOW TOO CLOSELY. Increase the space between you and other vehicles as much as you can. You definitely need more stopping time b/t you and others in Winter weather. It is not just the snow on the roads that can cause accidents- but snow squalls also reduce visibility.
8) DO CONSIDER THE TERRAIN. Just because a road may look clear- doesn't mean it is. When areas not exposed to as much sunlight get winter weather- even after some melting, BLACK ICE is a major concern. Remember too, bridges and overpasses always freeze first before other roadways.
7) DO CLEAN THE SNOW OFF OF YOUR CAR. Though it may be a hassle, take the time to clean off any snow/ice of of the tops and backs of vehicles- not just the windshields and windows. Snow and/or ice can fly off during drives, and impair the vision of other drivers. Flying ice can actually crack or bust windows and windshields! Use common courtesy toward other drivers.