A good number of us are going to find ourselves in tricky driving situations this winter, whether close to home or while traveling. So what can you do to keep yourself out of an icy roadside ditch? Here are some tips for winter driving!
• Test those tires. Cold temperatures can decrease tire pressure, and low tire pressure leads to a greater chance of losing control on messy roads. Also be sure your traction is up to snuff with the penny test. Put a penny upside down in between the treads. If you can see the top of Abe Lincoln’s head, it’s time for new wheels.
• Make sure you can see. Replace your windshield wipers before winter and always have extra windshield washer fluid on hand. You can’t avoid trouble if you can’t see it coming!
• Easy does it. If you’re having trouble accelerating from a stop, apply the gas slowly to regain traction and continue on your way. Slamming down on the gas pedal will have you fishtailing in the intersection, and you’ll look downright silly.
• Don’t panic. If you find yourself sliding out of control while in motion, instinct will probably tell you to slam on the brakes. Don’t do that. Instead, take your foot off both pedals, look in the direction you want to go – not in the direction you’re going – and steer the car toward your gaze.
• Put on a few pounds. Throw a few bags of cat litter in the trunk of your car or the bed of your truck. In addition to weighing the vehicle down and improving handling, that stuff comes in very handy if you need to dig and drive yourself out of a snowbank!
• Be considerate. I’m the person all of those speed-racers complain doesn’t know how to drive in the snow because I’m reasonably cautious, at least in my opinion. When the roads are bad, slow down and leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. We’ve all seen that person tearing down an icy road or riding on the bumpers of law-abiding citizens during a storm. Don’t be that person, no matter how tough you think your car is.
• Be prepared. Have a winter kit on hand with the basics + some emergency supplies. Suggested items include a snow scraper, jumper cables, a gas can, a shovel, blankets, snacks, deicer, window wash, cat litter and of course a charged cell phone.
Sources (in addition to my own misadventures):
Tom Zobel, Proforma’s eMarketing Specialist
Dirk Hiney, Proforma’s Printed Products Specialist and recent attendee of the BMW Performance Driving School
Pep Boys: The Truth About Tread Life
AAA Exchange: Winter Driving Tips
Cartalk.com: Winter Driving Tips
Seattle.gov: Winter Driving Tips
Edmunds.com: Tips for Safe Driving on Snow and Ice
Wataugaroads.com: Winter Weather Driving Tips