Driving during the winter brings with it many challenges, and this is especially true when attempting to traverse snowy or icy roads. The last thing you want during bad winter weather is sliding off the road or getting into an accident. Unfortunately, these things do happen all the time. Nonetheless, following these simple tips can help to ensure you safely get wherever you need to go this winter.
Driving too fast for the conditions is one of the biggest mistakes most drivers make. Snowy, wet, or icy roads dramatically increase the time it takes your vehicle to stop. Snow also lessens the amount of traction your tires have and thus decreases the control you have over your vehicle. Moreover, severe winter storms can severely limit your visibility and make it harder for you to see other vehicles and for them to see you. For all these reasons, it is essential that you always reduce your speed whenever driving on snowy roads.
Not taking steps to make sure they can properly see out of their windows is another simple winter-driving mistake many people make. Taking the time to fully clean all the snow off your windows is obviously important. However, equally important is making sure that your windshield wipers are working properly and in good shape. Having a cracked or broken windshield can also further limit your visibility, which means you might want to consider windshield replacement to eliminate this additional risk. While driving around with a cracked windshield might not seem like a big deal during the summer, doing so during the winter can be deadly.
The importance of making sure your tires are in good condition cannot be overstated. Having adequate traction is essential in preventing your vehicle from slipping and sliding. Tires that are bald or low on tread produce far less traction and thus increase your risk whenever driving on snowy or slick roads. Therefore, it is vital that you ensure your tires are in good shape and have plenty of tread on them before setting off. In addition to tread, you may want to let out a little bit of air from the tires so that there is more surface area on the ground while driving. This is a common practice when there is a lot of snow on the ground. However, anyone considering this action should also be careful not to let out too much air and cause damage to the tires.
Understanding your vehicle and how well it performs on snowy roads is a vital part of safe winter driving. This is especially true if your vehicle is rear-wheel drive. These vehicles tend to slip much more on snowy roads when compared to front-wheel-drive vehicles, and they do especially poorly when going up hills. Nonetheless, even vehicles with an all-wheel or four-wheel drivetrain do have their limits. While these drivetrains do produce more traction and allow you to accelerate easier, they have zero impact on your stopping ability. Also, consider your car’s performance while climbing up and down hills in snow or icy conditions.
Making sure you’re prepared before setting off down the road is another vital component of staying safe during winter driving. Getting a flat tire, sliding off the road, or otherwise getting into an accident could leave you stranded. To prepare for this, it is highly recommended that you always make sure you always have gloves, hats, coats, and other warm clothing in your vehicle. It is also a good idea to always carry food, water, and blankets with you at all times. Experts also recommend carrying a candle and matches. Although it may not seem like much, the heat produced by a candle is actually enough to keep you from freezing to death should you find yourself stranded in the cold.
Driving safely during the winter often comes down to using your common sense and exercising a bit more caution. Still, following these basic tips should also help to keep you safe on snowy roads and hopefully ensure you get where you need to go with no issues.