Here’s What You Need to Know If You Encounter a Snowy Road
Driving in the snow can be one of the scariest things you ever do. Most people who live in the north will laugh at that, but if you are from an area that does not receive a lot of snow, it very well could be.
The amount of snow that falls can make roads even more difficult to manage, you will need to follow some tips from those northerners if you want to manage the roads safely. In this blog, we will give you some of those tips for driving in the snow.
Driving in Snow Tips
Snow can be a serious issue for drivers, and that it will turn into most likely icy roads makes it even worse. Some drivers from the south barely see snow and are not necessarily equipped with snow chains, or another snow driving equipment, while the north sees this every winter and expects it.
Don’t forget, those are those who think they are fearless on the roads and will blow right past you, so if you have the patience, you will not end up like them and find yourself in a ditch or accident.
No jerky movements with the vehicle! Driving in snow requires you to be as smooth as possible with your motions. Turning the steering wheels, using the accelerator and the brakes. Jerking the car will keep it in motion on the snow. Some drivers will pretend there is a cup of liquid on their dash, and the key is to not let it fall.
Look Far Ahead
When traveling, you will hit light spots of snow, but the further you travel it could get heavier and more packed. The key to this is to keep your eyes far ahead on the road and expect that the roads could get worse. The longer it snows, the more will accumulate on the roads, making travel harder.
Do not think for one minute that just because it is snowing lightly the roads won’t get worse.
Something that race car drivers have learned during races is to look where you want to go, not where the car is going. Your peripheral vision can take care of any obstacles you are trying to avoid if you go out of control. If you feel the car slipping on the snow due to icy road, look where you want to go and head there when controlling the vehicle.
Eventually, there will come that one spot of snow or slush that will take the car into a slide, and you will need to control it the best you can. Don’t panic and don’t hit the brakes. This will just cause more uncontrolled movement in the vehicle while your adrenaline is rushing. If your winter tires lose their grip on the road, try to remember these two different ways of controlling the slide.
Front-wheel slides will cause a wider turn, so ease off the gas and let the tires grab the road again. Once they do, aim the car where you want to go.
Rear-wheel slides will cause the back end sliding out, so you want to turn your steering wheel the same way your rear is sliding. If the vehicle’s rear is sliding to the left, then turn the wheel to the left and ease off the gas until it gains the traction again.
Most of the newer models of vehicles today have anti-lock braking systems (ABS) in them. Here the computer in your vehicle will optimize your brakes in extreme situations for you.
Braking will be done aggressively to each wheel based on the rotation of the tire in the spin. This allows you to keep your foot on the brake hard and keep steering because the computer will take care of wheels for you.
Most of the ABS systems have a vibration to them while your foot is on the brake pedal, a kind of pushing back at you, and a clicking noise. If you feel the vibration, don’t take your foot off the pedal, it is just the system kicking in to help you.
If you don’t have the ABS system in your vehicle, take your time when approaching corners or stop signs. Start breaking far enough in advance to help you not go through the intersection. Tapping the brakes a little at a time will slow you the same as the ABS system would.
Assess Your Traction
Some drivers will assess the situation before they get too far down the road by doing some simple tests on the roads. Only do this if no other vehicles are near you or in the way. Normally, this is done on a small block of road that is close to home or sometimes if they have a long driveway, they can do it there.
- While on a straight short stretch of road, gently hit your accelerator and see if the tires spin.
- Hitting their brakes harder than usual to see if they slide.
- Turning a corner, a little quicker to see if there is any sliding.
Don’t Speed Up or Stop on Hills
Snow moves around under your tires, and if you live in an area that has a lot of hills and slopes, you do not want to gun the gas up the hill. This will just let the tires spin underneath you, it is better to get a little inertia on the flat part of the road and coast up the hill till you reach the crest. Then proceed down the hill slowly by reducing your speed gradually so you don’t spin out of control and let the snow take you in the ditch.
Leave sooner, drive slower, live longer. Take your time by driving slower when in the snow. Snow can push your vehicle all over the road if not taking care while driving, so taking your time and going slower will prevent many missteps when traveling.
When driving in snow, whether it is just on the roads or snowing out, don’t follow too closely behind someone. You never know when they will spin out or lose control, and if you are too close, it is more likely you will be involved in an accident with them. Give them enough room in case something happens.
Extra Safety Tips to Know
So now you know how to drive in the snow. Here are some extra safety tips you can use and apply as well when driving in the snow.
If you don’t have to go out, don’t. Just because you think you can drive great in the snow does not mean you have to. If it is a bad storm, try to avoid going out altogether.
When semi’s go past you in the snow, there is a huge possibility that your window will get covered with snow or slush that they kick up. Take your time if they pass you and let off the gas, the quicker they go around you the better. You don’t want to be riding side by side with a semi if they lose control of the trailer.
Plows have a tendency of not necessarily riding on their side of the road because they have to clean the entire highway or road. Keep your distance from them and don’t pass them if you don’t have to. Yes, they can go slow, but if you have to pass, make sure you are on a straight stretch of road and not a curve. You will be more likely to control the vehicle if you pass while the road is straight and not go in the ditch if they move over slightly.
When you get gusts of wind while it is snowing, visibility can become a problem. Other drivers passing you will cause whiteout conditions and bigger vehicles blowing up the snow behind them. Don’t follow too closely to them and make sure that you can see.
It is simple, use your lights everyone. Even during the day, it is easier for other drivers to see you, especially if they want to move over. You probably have been on the road and seen white vehicles not have their lights on, and it is hard to see them until they are right by you. This can be dangerous, especially if you have a white vehicle, you will blend right in with the snow.
When traveling at night, if you are in a snowstorm, you probably have experienced the “Star Wars” effect when driving. It is better to use your dim lights and not your brights. When you use your bright lights, it will light up the snow more and expand the glare, so use your dims to lessen the effect.
Make sure you have the proper tires on your vehicle for snow. Snow tires will have a deeper tread on them to give you better traction. Check your tires frequently for the proper air and tread, and if you notice you are sliding more than usual, it might be the tires. If you are unsure of what you need, check with your auto store.
Clean Off Vehicle
Cleaning off your car or truck completely will help you on the roads. How many times have you been driving and the ice or snow falls off vehicles in front of you and covers your car or blinds you while driving? Take the time to clean off your vehicle properly with ice scraper when it gets covered with snow and ice. Make sure your lights are clear, license plate and the top of your car. Now we know that not everyone can reach the top of the vehicle, but try to get as much as you can before you get on a highway doing high speeds.
What’s the Best Vehicle for Snow Driving?
When people ask what the best cars for snow are, they tend to go toward the all-wheel or four-wheel-drive vehicles. Truth is, there is not one vehicle better than the other.
The driver of the vehicle is the one who has the control and if you are a patient and courteous driver, then it should not matter what vehicle you are driving. Take the time to get to know your vehicle and how it works, and you can drive it like a champ.
We have all seen those who drive vehicles with all-wheel or four-wheel drive think they are invincible and go faster than everyone else. Since these vehicles send power to all four wheels instead of two, they give people a false sense of security on the roads and tend to go faster. How many have passed you though and later you see them in the ditch? Take your time!
Snow Driving Summed Up
Whether you are a pro or newbie to driving in the snow, the last thing you want to do is end up in a situation that will make you a statistic you hear about on the news. Did you know that over 70% of the nation’s roads are located in a snowy region? In these areas, the average is over five inches of snow annually. Use the tips we gave you and stay safe out there, be calm, observant, and patient.