8 Tips for Driving on Ice and Snow
If you live in a part of the country where winter seems to last forever, you’re probably well versed in prepping your car for snowy, icy, freezing and just plain nasty weather conditions. Sure, you’ve put on winter tires, purchased quality windshield wipers, replaced your battery and took your car in for a maintenance checkup, but that’s really only half of the safe winter driving equation. Even if you consider yourself a winter driving expert, it’s smart to brush up on proper winter driving techniques. Read up, enjoy, and be safe!
- Drive slowly. The winter weather driving rule above all others. Remember, everything takes more time in the snow—turning, accelerating, and braking. Give yourself time to maneuver properly, and try to be patient with yourself and other drivers.
- Give yourself space. On dry roads, the customary follow distance is about three to four seconds according to AAA. On icy or snowy roads, increase this distance to eight to ten seconds to give yourself enough time to stop in an emergency.
- Practice threshold braking. According to AAA, this is the best way to keep your car under control whether you have antilock brakes or not. Put your heel on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the pedal.
- Embrace inertia. If you’re going up a hill, try your hardest not to stop. Gain some inertia on a flat surface before attempting to drive up the hill.
- Know your car. Every car has different handling abilities and characteristics. According to CarTalk.com, you should know if your car has front, rear, part-time or full-time four-wheel drive, anti-brakes, traction control and stability control. Find out what kind of tires you have, and then figure out how all of these things affect your car’s ability to take on snowy conditions.
- Dive gently. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. It takes longer to do everything on icy roads. Stepping on the gas slowly and gently is the best way to hold traction and avoid losing control.
- Practice driving in a large, empty parking lot. That’s another tip from our friends at CarTalk.com. Try sending the car into a little skid on purpose. Slam on the brakes and practice getting your car under control. As long as there are no light poles, cars, or people around, this is a great way to see how your car reacts to snowy conditions, and gives you the confidence you need to feel in control of your vehicle.
- Drive slowly. Yes, we’re saying it again because it’s THAT important. They say slow and steady wins the race, and in inclement weather, that couldn’t be more true. It’s better to arrive at your destination a little late, than not at all.
It might go without saying, but if the weather is exceptionally bad and you really don’t need to go anywhere, just stay home. Enjoy some cozy family time on the couch, and watch the storm from inside. Even if you are an expert winter driver, it doesn’t mean everyone else is too. If you absolutely must go on a winter road trip, be sure to follow our tips and for safe winter driving. And, before the cold weather kicks in, schedule an appointment at your local Sears Auto Center. We’ll help make sure you and your vehicle are ready to take on the winter.