Driving in the winter often brings inclement weather and dangerous driving environments. But utilizing a few simple tips for driving in winter, you can make it a much safer experience for you and your vehicle.
Prepare your vehicle for winter: In addition to your vehicle’s annual maintenance, you can prepare yourself for winter driving conditions by winterizing your vehicle. Some ways you can do this are:
- Test your vehicle’s battery as battery power can drop with the temperature.
- Put on winter tires with a more flexible, deeper tread.
- If you are using all-season tires, then be sure to check their tread and replace them if needed.
- Check the tire pressure because the pressure will drop with the temperature.
- Be sure the cooling system is working.
- To avoid the gas line freezing, keep your gas tank half full at least.
- Replace wiper blades if they are not working properly.
- Depending on your region, add temperature-appropriate wiper fluid.
Prepare your vehicle before leaving: Clean side view mirrors, external camera lenses, and any snow, ice, or dirt from windows or assistive driving sensors. Make sure that you can see everything around you from your vehicle as clearly as possible. To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when warming up your car, avoid letting your vehicle run in the garage. If going out in stormy weather, make sure that someone knows where you’re going.
Avoid driving on icy roads: If worried about bad driving conditions, the most obvious advice is to avoid driving on icy roads altogether. Though this may not always be possible, you can opt to utilize familiar roads with regular upkeep and plowing or check on the news about the weather or road accidents nearby to avoid the worst of icy road conditions.
Accelerate at a slow pace: If you accelerate too quickly, then your tires will spin, which may lead to your wheels losing traction. Losing contact with the road could lead to an accident as it could cause you to lose control of the vehicle and the vehicle to slip off the road.
Decelerate carefully: For the same reasons that sudden acceleration is a bad idea, so is sudden braking. While anti-lock brakes (ABS) may be useful to normal weather conditions, you shouldn’t rely on this system to work as well on snow and ice. You can keep your wheels from sliding as little as possible by slowly pressing down on the brake pedal. To do this consistently, however, you must leave lots of room between you and the vehicle in front of you.
Normally, you’d want to leave about four seconds between you and the car ahead, but in bad weather, it’s better to stay on the safe side and increase the distance to eight to ten seconds. Then, it will not be necessary to brake as quickly if the vehicle in front of you slows down suddenly.
Reduce your speed: Higher speeds make it both easier to lose control as well as make it more difficult to stop. You can’t be too careful. Be mindful of the traffic speeds around you and reduce your vehicle’s speed based on the weather conditions. Don’t use cruise control, particularly if it is storming out and the temperature is below freezing. You should drive as slowly as you are able, even if it means going as slow as 10 mph to be safe.
Pull off the road: If your ability to see the road is severely limited, be sure to pull off the road towards a safe spot until visual conditions improve and you can drive safely again. But be mindful that you should never pull off onto the shoulder of the road unless it’s an absolute emergency. If you can’t see around you, then oncoming vehicles won’t be able to spot you on the side of the road either, or it could lead to a possible accident.
Avoid overcorrecting: If you still find your vehicle skidding on the icy road, remember to remain calm and steer in the direction of the slide. When your wheels gain traction again, you won’t have to overcorrect your steering to stay driving in your lane. Although this reaction can feel counterintuitive, steering in the direction of the slide can help avoid driving accidents.
You are your vehicle’s best safety feature. Winter driving conditions can be slippery and unexpected, and it is best to take thorough safety precautions so that you will be able to drive as safely as possible this winter.
Looking for information on buying winter tires in Park City? Prepare your vehicle this winter by visiting us at one of our 14 different Utah auto repair and tire shop locations along the Wasatch Front.