How Do You Drive in Ice and Snow During the Winter?

Driving in Winter Snow and Ice

The winter brings with it quite a few different things. A steep drop in temperature, more and more blankets, and days that are darker for far longer. There are also fun things like Thanksgiving and Christmas, but that snow and the frigid temperatures that accompany these holidays can be tough for some people.

Another thing that comes with winter is the build up of ice and snow and having to manoeuvre your vehicle through that suddenly harsh terrain. Snow and ice can be enough of a hassle to deal with, but having to drive through those conditions can lead to real stress each time that you climb behind the wheel.

Don’t fret about having to drive during the winter. Though it might seem a bit scary to drive in conditions of ice and snow, there are definitely tried and true techniques that you can implement to make your driving experience a little smoother and to feel safer as you traverse from place to place.

The Questions to Ask Yourself

During the winter, there should always be one question that you ask of yourself before you venture out into the elements in your vehicle: do I really need to drive right now? When it comes time to go to work, to drive home from work, go to the grocery store, or any of the other times when you can’t help but get behind the wheel, you really have no choice. 

But there are plenty of times when you don’t have to get behind the wheel. Consider this before you make your trek into the great outdoors, especially if the weather is particularly bad during that time. Accidents are far more likely to occur during a bad storm, so make certain that you are not putting yourself into a dangerous position if you don’t absolutely have to.

The other question that you need to ask yourself is what the characteristics are for your wheels and your car. That means knowing whether your vehicle is front-wheel drive, rear-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, or four-wheel drive as well as the nuances and advantages that each has to offer.

Invest in a Good Set of Tyres

Regardless of just how well you drive during the more inclement months of the year, none of that will matter if you are driving on poor tyres. Make certain that your tyres have the tread necessary to handle the colder and slicker months of the year; when your tyres are bald, you stand a greater risk of sliding through a stop and potentially getting into an accident.

It isn’t the smallest investment in the world, but paying for winter tyres might be a great idea. This is particularly true if you are more of a jittery driver; giving yourself the advantage of tyres that won’t slip from underneath you will only aid you in the process of driving.

Driving on Colder and Slicker Terrains

Whenever you are driving on snow-covered roads, make certain to reduce your speed significantly. You always want to leave yourself extra room for adequate braking and make sure that you have a following distance of at least six to ten seconds instead of the standard three to four seconds. This will ensure that you do not slam into the back of the car that you are following when you are trying to brake.

You want to make certain that you both apply and remove pressure to the brake and gas pedals as smoothly as you possibly can. In addition, pay attention to the car as you drive it. If you notice any signs that you are losing traction while you are braking, accelerating, or taking corners, be sure to leave yourself even more room for error.

When braking, constantly scan the road and the landscape as you drive. You always want to reduce the need for any sudden braking and give yourself as much time as possible to plan for your next move. When braking in the snow with modern cars, you might feel the anti-lock brake system (ABS) begin to pulsate in the pedal to prevent the brakes from locking up. Don’t let up on the brakes; keep your foot firmly planted.

When you accelerate, you want to gently apply pressure to the gas pedal and take a little extra time when reaching a safe cruising speed. When you place too much pressure on the gas pedal, you might cause the wheels to spin and lose traction; this could reduce your overall control of the vehicle and make it more difficult to come to a safe stop.

Steering on Ice and Snow

One of the biggest errors that drivers make in winter conditions is jerking the wheel suddenly when they begin to lose traction and slide. This will only exacerbate the spin and slide and could make the accident even worse.

When you are driving, steering should be as smooth as possible so that you can maintain maximum control on the ice and snow. As mentioned previously, avoid any quick movements of the steering wheel, and know how to both identify as well as correct oversteer and understeer.

What is oversteer? Oversteer is when the rear tyres lose their grip in a turn and the rear of the car then starts to swing out; this results in a far tighter turn than you would like. Don’t slam on the brakes or overcompensate when you steer. Steer into the skid and gently accelerate to regain control.

What is understeer? Understeer is a front wheel skid where you turn the steering wheels and it causes the front tyres to slide instead of gripping. Make sure that you don’t slam on the brakes or steer hard into the turn. Take your foot off the accelerator and make sure that you turn the wheel slowly straight until you feel the car grip again.

These are just a few common practices that you can implement to ensure that you drive safely and securely in even the toughest of weather conditions.

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