With the recent snowfall and ice storms that recently swept across the country, I thought it might be helpful to offer up some tips. I’ve lived in Missouri all my life, and I’ve driven in these conditions enough to know that there are certain precautions you can take to get from point A to point B without too much trouble.
1) Let your car warm up! Seems simple enough, but a lot of people dont give their car proper time to warm up before trying to go somewhere. Letting your car get ready for the drive is important, not only because of its own running condition, but because you, the driver, will perform better if you aren’t shivering while trying to navigate.
2) Warm your brakes up. If possible, when you first start the trip, use your brakes while giving your car gas to warm them up and scrape off any frost that may be present. Brakes get just as cold as everything else outside, and if the roads are slippery, you want to make sure your brakes are doing everything they can to stop you on ice and snow.
3) Give yourself time to stop. This may seem simple, but so many people forget that braking distance on packed snow or ice is at least tripled. If you attempt a hard stop you are going to do nothing but slide. Keep a large distance behind anybody in front of you, and give yourself at least three times the normal distance to slow down when approaching a stop sign or intersection.
4) Dont slam your brakes! This is the worst thing you can do when sliding. Be gentle on your brakes! Your goal isnt to keep your wheel from spinning; this will simply make your car slide uncontrollably. Gently apply the brakes to slow the wheel down, and you will keep control of your car.
5) Turn slowly. You simply can’t turn as sharply as you’d like. Give yourself a wide arc when making turns. Angling your wheels too sharply will result in your car sliding straight instead of turning in the direction you were hoping your car would take you.
6) Turn into the slide! If that ice and snow has your car sliding and your car is drifting one way or the other, don’t panic! If there is a lot of traffic, turn your hazards on. Turn your wheels in the direction you are sliding. If your front-end is veering left, turn your wheels left so your car can get back on track and you can re-adjust. If you attempt to correct the slide by steering the other way, when your wheels catch something they have traction on, your car will whip around and, depending on your speed, potentially turn you completely around.
7) Don’t drive if you don’t have to. As careful as you might be, many drivers probably aren’t. Your best defense in snowy and icy conditions is to simply not get out in them. If you can, wait a day or two for road conditions to improve. If you have to get out, do your best to take main roads that have already been cleared, or if there are no clear roads, take side roads to your destination and be cautious of any other cars on the road.
I hope these tips help you to become a safer driver out there. Once you get the hang of driving in these conditions, it’s not nearly as intimidating, but you have to be cautious at all times.