As winter rolls in, many towns are bombarded by snow. I must say first that I adore snow. To me, snow is just a way of frosting the world. It makes everything magical.
That being said, the first day of snow is greeted with joy and terror; Joy that winter has finally arrived and terror for driving on the road. While I find myself very much equipped for winter driving. It is the other drivers on the road that terrify me.
Driver’s ed, unless taken in the winter time, does not prepare you for the driving landscape that is snow. If you don’t know the first thing about driving in winter snow, or if you do but are awful at it, here are some tips:
- Slow down. Most accidents in winter (and other times of year, to be honest) are caused because drivers are going too fast for the road conditions. And a car insurance company does not care if your accident happened with or without snow. Snow causes the roadway to be slicker than normal. Freezing temps will harden that snow into ice, which is basically a slide for your car. Drop your max speed down according to the conditions. Like snow? Stick around the speed limit. Heavy snow and ice? Go as fast as you can go without sliding when you pump the breaks. Most importantly, if you are going downhill put your car into first or second gear so you won’t inadvertently cruise down the hill.
- Know how to use your breaks. Breaks are one of the most important parts of your car. However, when used improperly, breaks can be your worst enemy. One of the worst things you can do in your car during the winter is to slam on your breaks. The force of slamming your breaks, combined with the ice of the road will cause the back end of your car to spin out of control. This goes hand-in-hand with going slow. The slower you are going, the less you will have to slam on your breaks to stop. I recommend pumping your breaks. Instead of one long push on the pedal, repeatedly tap the pedal lightly to slow you down but to avoid riding your breaks. And find out if your car has all-wheel, front- or rear-wheel drive. This is especially important if you want to do doughnuts in an empty parking lot. (Tip: Real-wheel drive is optimum for that.)
- Do not panic. Even if you are the most cautious driver, winter weather can still get the best of you. If you start to swerve, do not panic. Your first inclination might be to slam on the breaks and grab that wheel, but that will only make the swerve worse. Immediately take your foot off the gas pedal and lightly turn your steering wheel into the swerve. Do not try and swerve the other direction to counteract it. The force of the car and your motion will only make you spin out of control.