Don’t Overestimate Your Abilities When Driving on Snowy Roads

Posted on February 8, 2013

Throughout the Northeast, citizens are battening down the hatches to protect themselves from the Winter Storm that’s set to wreak havoc.  And here in California, we’re not always free from the ravages of winter weather either.  Snow is a possibility throughout much of the state, and those who travel throughout the country also have to be prepared to deal with inclement weather.  If you ever find yourself driving along roads compromised by snow and ice, then consider the tips supplied by Consumer Reports in a new article.

Driving along snowy and slick roads requires a whole different skill set than normal travel conditions would.  You might be used to turning and braking or accelerating at the same time, but on winter roads, this could lead to disaster.  So on slick roads, when you brake, make sure you only brake.  Don’t turn the wheels until you’re ready to let go of the brakes, as doing otherwise could compromise your ability to safely steer.  Similarly, don’t gun the engine as you pivot the wheel, as this could inhibit the ability of your wheels to find purchase with the ground.  Basically just take pains to eliminate sudden movements and actions from your driving.  The slower and steadier you do everything (turn the wheels, press the brakes, hit the gas), the less likely you’ll be to slide.

You need to be prepared, though, when despite all the precautions in the world your automobile still slides along the ground.  Electronic stability systems can eliminate much of the danger, but they’re not 100% effective, and not all vehicles are equipped with such technology.  If you begin to fishtail while driving, don’t panic.  Remove your foot from the gas pedal, and gently move the wheel toward the sliding wheels.  This will help you course correct and allow your tires the opportunity to find purchase.

Drivers should be giving themselves ample distance to stop amid winter weather conditions, but sometimes a vehicle might slam on the brakes or a sudden obstacle could block the road.  When this happens, your actions will depend on whether or not you have antilock brakes.  If you do, it’s a matter of pressing the brakes firmly and letting the ABS do its job.  If your vehicle doesn’t contain the system, though, you need to repeatedly tap the brakes.  This is preferable to a constant pressing motion which could lock the wheels on a slick road.

Finally, take whatever other precautions you can to prevent a potential disaster.  Keep an eye out for other drivers and even pedestrians engaging in dangerous actions, and go slow to avoid danger.  And if you have four wheel drive, understand that the system really only helps your acceleration ability.  If you have to stop short, four wheel drive will not offer you the power to stop on a dime.

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