According to a report by the U.S. Department of Transportation, weather-related traffic accidents claim about 5,000 lives every year. Driving in the snow can be quite challenging even to the most experienced drivers. The tires’ traction will be reduced and one can easily lose control and can end up causing an accident. Safety is an essential factor in such weather conditions. We’ve put together a list of 12 important tips that can help you as you explore the winter wonderland. Please read on.
- Stay at Home
If it’s not a must that you go out during winter, staying home is the safest option. Being an expert driver doesn’t guarantee you of safely maneuvering around the snowy roads. Therefore, ensure to always check for weather forecasts and delay your trip if the weather is expected to be very bad. Stay away from snowy roads as much as possible. If you’re in doubt, don’t drive. You can plan to complete all the possible projects before the winter season sets in to avoid being compromised. If you must drive on such roads, the next tips are enough to guide you through.
- Increase the Space Intervals
Perhaps you’ve been used to the two-second rule while driving in fair weather conditions. However, when driving on roads covered with snow, you need to double the interval to at least four seconds. Your vehicle will react more slowly in the snow, unlike during normal situations. This means that you should always keep a safe distance between you and the vehicle in front of you as you’ll need at least twice the distance to stop on ice. Therefore, regardless of having a four-wheel drive vehicle or are using the winter tires, you need to allow more space between you and the vehicle in front for safe and efficient stopping whenever necessary. You need to keep in mind that more weight on the vehicle requires longer braking distance. If you or a family member gets injured as a result of someone else’s negligence, you can hire a helping hand from one of the injury lawyers around your area. For instance, you can consult a Jonesboro car accident attorney to advise and help you with the necessary steps to follow.
- Enhance Visibility Where Necessary
Great visibility is essential for safe motoring regardless of whether you’re driving in a busy or less busy road. However, wintry weather often tends to reduce visibility. This makes headlights a must-have requirement for crash avoidance. Therefore, ensure to have your headlights on when driving in the snow especially during dusk or dawn and at night, of course. Perhaps having adaptive headlights is an added advantage.
- Always Check Your Vehicle’s Exhaust
How often do you check to see if your vehicle’s exhaust pipe is clear, more so when driving in the snow? A clear exhaust pipe is vital to prevent accumulation of the deadly, odorless carbon monoxide in your vehicle’s passenger compartment. Therefore, remember to always clear the tailpipe of snow especially when you’re extricating your vehicle from a snowy ditch. In a circumstance where the vehicle is stationary but running, have your window and those of the passengers open a bit for efficient ventilation. Your exhaust system could easily get damaged if you constantly run over icy berms and could cause the exhaust to come from places not supposed to come from.
1. Always Be Ready for the Worst
If the circumstances force you to drive in the snowy weather, be prepared for anything. Ensure to take a supply kit with you containing essentials like water, non-perishable food, a power bank, gloves, and blankets. Have a shovel if you’re driving towards more severe conditions and have your gas tank at least half full should you get stranded and are far from a gas station. Check to see if your vehicle is strong enough to sustain certain severe winter conditions even before the season starts. Among the most important features to check, include the defroster, antifreeze, wipers, headlights, and windshield. If you’re in doubt, it’s safe to consider replacing any of these and other vital parts with winterized ones, especially if you’re having plans to travel for longer distances with family and friends. You can check the condition of the roads prior to your heading out.
2. Try Using Snow Tires
For your vehicle to stay firmly connected to the road in the winter, tires play a vital role. You can easily lose control while driving if the tires have lost their grip. If your lifestyle does not demand that you frequently drive to areas with long winter, having excellent all-season tires will be very important. Otherwise, you should consider replacing your tires with snow tires (also known as winter tires) to be able to tackle different winter challenges. These tires have more flexible rubber compounds with deeper treads and more biting edges, making them fit for both dry and cold weathers. This means that you’ll be able to make more controlled turns, accelerate quickly, and to brake faster.
3. Snow Tires and All-Wheel Drive Are Not Enough
Having a vehicle with snow tires or a four-wheel drive doesn’t make you unstoppable when it comes to winter driving. Yes, they come with a good number of advantages including extra control while turning, accelerating, and braking. However, they won’t make you safe from abrupt turns, the presence of black ice, aggressive acceleration, or even braking at the wrong times. Being careful on the road is still an essential factor every driver must consider while on the road. Therefore, remember to drive slowly and become more watchful for other motorists.
4. Don’t Stop Unless Necessary
When driving in the snow, you need to avoid stopping as much as possible. Always ensure that you keep a steady pace as you go up and down hills, as you approach stoplights, and as you roll into turns. This way, you’ll be able to maintain sufficient inertia to keep your vehicle moving. Therefore, you should consider slowing down and keep rolling slowly as you approach the stoplights so that you can slowly increase your pace when the light changes. Going up a hill could be challenging and it will be worse if you try to stop.
5. Don’t Power Up Hills
When going up the hill, be keen not to apply extra gas on to prevent your wheels from spinning. Have sufficient momentum as you approach the hill and you’ll just need to keep this momentum moderate. If possible, keep your foot off the accelerator. The inertia will be enough to sustain you reach the top of the hill. Do not increase the speed as you approach the crest but try to move as slowly as possible to maintain control as you proceed down the hill.
6. Understand Your Braking System
Does your vehicle use the traditional braking system or the modern anti-lock brakes (ABS)? Well, both have their advantages and disadvantages. In this case, having the modern braking system will be an advantage. Here’s why. With the traditional systems, pressing the brake pedal allows the brakes to lock and the wheels will not turn, hence could easily lead to skidding and reduced grip especially when you want to maneuver or stop. You, therefore, need to gently press the pedal to regain control and, perhaps, traction. With anti-lock brakes, however, should you be in an emergency, you’ll have to just press the pedal very hard and the vehicle will do the rest of the work. You get to have sufficient traction and control to help you through different obstacles.
7. Avoid Driving Faster
As many snow experts would say, “the turtle wins the race” when driving on the snow. You may hardly predict the pavements if they’re covered with snow. This means that it can be inconvenient to drive faster. As mentioned above, braking on the snow and ice takes longer than usual and braking faster could easily lead to loss of the control. It’s essential, therefore, that you slow down when driving in order to successfully maneuver – accelerate, stop, and turn. Sometimes the posted speed limits may be irrelevant with snow on the road and this may mean driving much slower. When accelerating, keep it slow to maintain traction and create enough space for slowing down whenever necessary. Black ice could be somewhere along the road however clear it may seem. This calls for deliberate slowing down to avoid causing your wheels to spin.
8. Pack Your Luggage Properly
Your vehicle’s boot is likely to get filled up quickly as you pack for your winter trip. This way, you may use the additional space on the vehicle’s interior to stack some of the luggage. However, you need to be keen not to stack higher than the window’s bottom edge. If the luggage exceeds this edge, you can consider using the rooftop cargo carrier. Even distribution of the weight is also very important. Start by loading the center with the bulk of the weight then the rear sections should have luggage that is significantly lighter.
These are some of the most essential tips to guide you through driving on the snow. Safety is paramount regardless of your expertise in driving on the snow. Remember, accidents are unpredictable and can be tragic when they occur. Take care of yourself and the person in front of you. If someone becomes reckless while on the road and cause an accident in the process, consult a personal injury lawyer to guide you on the relevant legal steps to follow. Also, look out for other relevant themed blogs to learn more about safe driving and the importance of seeking a legal practice in case of an accident.