Winter weather is tough on both drivers and cars. It’s especially challenging when you and your car aren’t prepared for it. Check out the tips below for essential driving skills to master when winter weather hits.
Watch the Road
The worst thing about winter weather is ice. Watch the road and surrounding terrain carefully for signs of ice. Ice tends to form in shadowy areas that don’t get sun during the day. Look out for shadows caused by heavy trees overhanging the road, buildings and overpasses. Prepare to slow down when you pass these areas.
Braking can be your worst enemy in winter weather. In general, try to avoid braking by slowing down well in advance of a traffic light or other stopping situation. Anti-lock brakes don’t require pumping, but hitting them hard can still cause you to slip. The best practice is simply to drive slow to avoid taking sudden actions. If you’re concerned about your car’s brakes, visit an auto shop and get them checked.
Steering is another thing that can get you into trouble on icy roads. It’s important to remember that everything takes longer in these conditions, whether it’s steering, braking or accelerating. Don’t jerk your steering wheel if you find yourself in a skid; instead, steer softly into the skid and make any corrections softly as well.
Using Your Car’s Power Efficiently
Use your vehicle’s power efficiently by revving the engine in short bursts if you get stuck. You should accelerate the same way, slowly with a light touch. The more power you put to the road, the more chance you have of slipping and sliding. Don’t try to power up hills, but try to maintain some speed on the straight road to carry you partly up the hill while using a little gas to keep it going. When you go down a hill, go slowly, touching the brakes lightly if necessary.
Avoiding a Slide
Avoid slides by never over-correcting, whether it’s steering, braking or accelerating. Remember that everything needs to be done slowly in winter weather. If you feel your car start to slide, don’t jam on the brakes, but take your foot off the gas and steer into it while braking lightly if necessary.
Part of driving effectively in winter weather is being prepared. Equip your vehicle with winter tires to provide more grip and traction. Don’t rely on four-wheel drive as it won’t help you brake or steer. Be prepared to drive slowly no matter what type of vehicle you drive.