Tips for Driving Safely in The Snow
Let it snow! Kids love it when it snows, and deep, white snow certainly does make things look pretty. But, if you must go out when there are snow and ice on the roads, the wintry weather loses its charm.
A light flurry of sleet is not going to cause you too much of a problem. But when snow accumulates on the ground, it can make driving conditions extremely hazardous. So, you will need to adjust your driving style to account for the challenging conditions.
Before you wrap up warm and prepare to dig your car out from under a snowdrift, take a moment to brush up on your snow-driving knowledge. Here are ten tips to help you drive safely in the snow.
1. Make Sure You Have Plenty of Gas
If there has been heavy snow, you may get re-routed, and journeys are likely to take much longer than usual. So, if you are low on gas, fill up before you set out on a long winter road trip. It is best to aim to always have at least half a tank of gas during the winter months. So, keep an eye on the fuel gauge and don’t leave it to the last minute to buy more gas.
2. Pack a Winter Roadside Emergency Kit
Play it safe when driving in snow by packing a well-stocked roadside emergency kit and a shovel. A car emergency kit will contain tools and supplies to help you get out of a fix if you get stuck in the snow. Remember to pack some warm clothing and some emergency food and water as well. If the snow gets extremely deep, it could be some time before help arrives.
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3. Don’t Drive Unless Your Journey is Essential
The simplest way to stay safe on a snowy road is not to be out in your car! So, if heavy snow has fallen or is forecast, stay at home if you can. Driving in a snowstorm is no fun at all, and it is dangerous. Some regions are used to dealing with snow on the roads. So the streets will be cleared of the snow faster. And you may think that you can cope with the wintry conditions. Even so, if you don’t have to drive in the snow, why risk it?
4. Slow Down
The most basic of tips to drive safely in the snow is to slow down. Snow and ice make the roads slippery, and snow and slush kicked up from the road will reduce visibility. So, you are going to need to give yourself more time to react and stop your vehicle. Driving more slowly will also give you more traction on the slippery roads.
5. Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly
When you walk on snow and ice, you walk more gingerly, and you avoid sudden movements. The same approach needs to be taken when driving in the snow. If you accelerate too aggressively in slow, your wheels will spin. If you brake hard, you will skid. If you take a corner at high speed, there is a good chance you will wind up sitting in the nearest field! So, it’s easy on the gas and easy on the brake. And take it slowly around bends.
6. Slow and Steady Up Hills
Avoid powering up hills. Instead, try to gain a little bit of speed before you hit the incline. If you try to power up a steep slope, your wheels will spin, and you may lose control of your vehicle. And try to avoid stopping on a hill. Trying to get the car moving again on a steep, icy slope is can be almost impossible.
7. Allow Extra Stopping Space
Allow extra time to stop your vehicle when you approach traffic signals and stop signs. And increase the distance between you and the car in front. Even at slow speeds, a car can slide a long way on the ice. So, you will need to leave an extra stopping distance even when you are driving slowly. It is advisable to have a three-second gap between you and the car in front in normal conditions. In snowy conditions, you should increase that gap to at least six seconds.
8. Scrape Snow and Ice Off Your Car
Clear the snow and ice off your car before you set out. Peering through a tiny hole in the snow on your windshield is not conducive to driving safely in the snow! And, when the snow and ice fall off your car, it can be dangerous for other road users. So, clean the snow and ice off all your windows, the vehicle’s roof, and from the lights.
9. Watch Out for Kids
When you are driving in residential areas, watch out for children playing in the snow. Kids get excited when there is snow on the ground, so they run out on the road without looking. And you will not be able to stop as quickly as you would in normal conditions. If you see children crossing the road, don’t anticipate them getting safely to the other side. A child could slip on ice on the road and need extra time to get back up again.
10. How to Get Your Car Out of Snow
If your car gets stuck in the snow, keep your cool. Spinning your wheels is going to get you nowhere fast! Clear the snow away from around your tires, and then try to rock the car out slowly. You can also gain extra traction by putting some grit, or even a blanket, underneath your tires. If all else fails, you will need to get someone to push your vehicle or get your car towed out of the snow.
So, the best tip for driving safely in the snow is to leave your car in the garage. But, if you must go out in your car, take it easy and allow extra space for stopping. The most important thing to remember is that it is better to arrive late than not to arrive at all.
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