As snowstorms become more frequent this January, it’s natural to get a little apprehensive behind the wheel. We all know the cardinal rules of driving on snow: carry chains, drive slowly, keep space between cars. Luckily, there are a few more tips and tricks to make winter driving a far less harrowing experience.
No Hard Braking! Except…
One of the most frequent mantras you’ll hear from habitual mountain drivers is “pump the brakes!” When you must come to a stop and feel your vehicle begin to slide, pump the brakes to prevent wheel lockup. This is a great trick if you have ample room to perform the maneuver, BUT in an emergency, you will want to take advantage of your car’s ABS.
Gary Witzenburg of Car and Driver Magazine explains: “All new vehicles on the road today are equipped with anti-lock brakes, which use an onboard computer to optimize the car’s braking in extreme conditions. If you are in a skid from which you can’t recover or you need to avoid an obstacle—and your vehicle has ABS—push the brake pedal down hard, and don’t let up.”
Look Where You Want To Go
In the event of a skid or slide, follow the advice you got when you were learning to ski, “Look where you want to go!” When you look where you want to go, your body responds and adapts accordingly. If you look into the slide chances are you will steer right where you don’t want to be!
Check Your Tires
If you’re simply visiting a snowy place, you may not see an immediate need to spend a fortune on winter tires. If you’ve decided to opt out of winter tires be sure to have a specialist check your current tires are ready for snowy conditions. They will almost certainly recommend chains, which come in a variety of styles and assembly types. Ask a tire specialist to give you a quick demonstration so you will be able to put them on correctly down the road.
Chain control checkpoints almost always have chain installers at the helm who can help you for a small fee.
The Old “Look Out Your Side Window” Trick
If you get caught up in a blizzard and are getting overwhelmed by the apparent deluge of snow on your windshield simply glance out your side window, you’ll be amazed at how little snow is actually falling compared to what you see directly in front of you!
If all else fails, curl up by the fireplace, enjoy some hot cocoa and stay put! Nervous drivers don’t always have the best reflexes in a jam. If you’re feeling uneasy about getting on the road, it may be best to put off driving until the conditions clear up!