Winter Driving Tips

stuck in the snow

Basic step by step information and video links for defensive driving in the winter.  Be smart, be patient and stay safe!

How To Drive In Snowy Conditions

  • SLOW DOWN! – Posted speed limits are for ideal travel conditions.
  • Be sure to have winter tires on your vehicle. It’s an important factor that influences a vehicle’s stopping distance
  • Watch the road. Black ice will make a road look like new asphalt when it is supposed to look greyish white in the winter.
  • Do not use cruise control. Winter driving requires you to be in full control at all times.
  • Drive with low-beam headlights on. Not only are they brighter than daytime running lights but turning them on also activates the tail lights. This makes your vehicle more visible.
  • Lengthen your following distance behind the vehicle ahead of you. Stopping distance on an icy road is double that of stopping on a dry one.
  • Steer with smooth and precise movements. Changing lanes too quickly and jerky steering while braking or accelerating can cause skidding.
  • Be patient and pass other cars only when it is safe to do so.

What To Do If You Start To Skid?

  • DO NOT PANIC!
  • Look where you want your vehicle to go and steer in this direction.
  • DO NOT BRAKE and DO NOT ACCELERATE
  • Put your car into neutral. Experts agree that during a skid it is important to reduce the forward motion of the vehicle in order to stop faster.

Using winter tires and driving at a reduced speed are more important factors that influence a vehicle’s stopping distance

How To Brake On A Very Slippery Road

Braking with anti-lock brakes

Also use heel-and-toe method, but do not remove your foot from the brake pedal until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.

Braking without anti-lock brakes

  • Use the heel-and-toe method. Keep your heel on the floor and use your toes to press the brake pedal firmly just short of locking up the wheels.
  • Release the pressure on the pedal, and press again in the same way.
  • Repeat this until you come to a full stop.

How To Exit Underground Garage

Underground garages normally have an upward ramp that exits onto the road. Although these types of ramps usually contain subsurface hot water plumbing to help keep it clear of ice, in the case of malfunction, or excess of ice and snow, slowly making your way up the ramp will cause you to either, skid going nowhere, or slide backwards. The following are steps will help you exit safely and smoothly.

  • Stay to one side of the ramp (if the layout does not have and Exit/Entrance partition.
  • Drive your vehicle up to the garage door, but about a Pick-Up truck distance away.
  • From that distance (once the garage door is open), make sure to honk you horn a couple times to advise any pedestrians, that a vehicle is about to exit the garage.
  • Begin to accelerate giving your vehicle adequate momentum to get up and over the ramp.
  • Once over the ramp, decelerate or stop, then continue on your way.

The key point is most people try slowly crawling up a garage ramp. In icy, excessively snowy, or generally slick conditions, the OPPOSITE is required.

How To Get Out Of A Snow Bank

If it should happen that you slide off into a snow back, don’t panic. If there is not damage, or the damage is mild enough for you to still drive the vehicle, the follow steps will help you get out of the snow bank and continue on your way.

If you are Mildly stuck in a snow bank

  1. Do not just spin the tires, you will put strain on your vehicle and dig yourself deeper into the snow. You can also manage to escape the snow bank at such high speeds that you lose control of your vehicle.
  2. Straighten you front tires. Wheels that are straight make it much easier for the car to move (getting unstuck) than if they are turned.
  3. Rock the car. Shifting quickly between forward and reverse can give you the necessary momentum to get out of the snow bank. This should only be used if you know you are mildly stuck as the the transmission can become overloaded and fail when the momentum is shifted so quickly.

If you are Very stuck in a snow bank

  1. Do not just spin the tires, you will put strain on your vehicle and dig yourself deeper into the snow. You can also manage to escape the snow bank at such high speeds that you lose control of your vehicle.
  2. Straighten you front tires. Wheels that are straight make it much easier for the car to move (getting unstuck) than if they are turned.
  3. Put the vehicle in park, then get out of your vehicle and dig the tires out of the snow.
  4. Sprinkle down salt, sand, cat litter behind the tires to help them get more traction. If you did not prepare your vehicle for winter driving, then take the floor mats out of your car and place them snuggly behind the driving wheels for traction. Note: It’s recommended in the winter you keep salt or sand, or cat litter in your trunk because your floor mats will be destroyed otherwise.
  5. Rock the car. Shifting quickly between forward and reverse can give you the necessary momentum to get out of the snow bank.

 

See video links below for some quick video guides on defensive winter driving:

Young Drivers Video –When Stuck In The Snow

Below Zero – Tips For Driving In Various Types of Snow

Basic Driving in the Hazards of Winter Tips

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