Driving in winter requires specific knowledge and technique. Don’t take chances. Instead, take advantage of some very savvy suggestions:
- Invest in Winter Tires
Did you know that so-called all-season tires really aren’t? That’s because winter driving needs the flexible rubber and traction that only a dedicated winter tire can provide. In fact, on slippery roads, they can increase your stopping ability by a life-saving 300%.
- Don’t Fall for Jack Frost’s Tricks
Be aware of freeze-warm-freeze cycles, and areas that are shaded from sunlight by trees or buildings – both are notorious for creating super-slick areas. Also keep in mind that bridges freeze faster than roads and can become slippery even when the road isn’t.
- Understand Your AWD
Your AWD system was designed to help with acceleration – not braking. While AWD can be great in getting you through a snow drift, it does nothing to help control your vehicle on icy roads and turns.
- Rock Out
If you become stuck, resist the urge to spin your tires. You’ll only dig a deeper hole for yourself. Instead, gently alternate between forward and reverse, and rock your way out of the situation.
- Keep it Clear
Don’t let snow or ice block your view – or shift and cause a sudden obstruction. Brush ALL the snow from your vehicle before you drive – including all lights, windows, mirrors, hood, trunk and roof.
- Be Smooth
Quick or jerking movements should always be avoided on a slippery road, but particularly so when making lane changes. Take it slow and smooth, so built-up snow and ice ridges don’t send you careening across lanes.
- Focus Far Ahead
Pay attention to what’s going on ahead of you. If you keep an eye on where your vehicle will be in about twelve seconds, you can avoid having to make surprise stops or maneuvers.
- Know the Slide Rules
When your vehicle starts to slide, don’t panic. Grip the wheel firmly and steer in the direction of the skid. Allow your ABS to slow you down and keep your eyes focused on the direction you want to go.
- Keep Your Distance
One of the smartest driving strategies, any time of year, is to avoid tailgating. In winter, depending on conditions, stay back two to three car lengths for every 15 km/h you are travelling.
- Plan and Prepare
Every vehicle should have an emergency kit, stocked with a shovel, flashlight, tow rope, blankets, warm clothing, bottled water and non-perishable snacks. Always take your cell phone with you, and keep it fully charged.
Winter driving requires special attention, so slow down – be aware – and be prepared. There’s no better way to ensure that you and yours make it safely through the frosty days ahead.