Winter is on its way, and with it comes inclement weather and snow! While snow is a Winter Wonderland dream to some, it can be a nightmare for drivers unaccustomed to snow-driving.
Make sure you stay safe this winter with these snow-driving tips!
- Clear snow from your entire car – not just the windshield. A snow-covered car makes you less visible to other drivers so clear snow and ice from the roof, windows, lights, and trunk as well. Taking the time to heat your car from the inside will help de-ice the exterior and prevent windshields and windows from getting foggy.
- Slow down. Your vehicle has less traction when you’re driving on snow and ice. Whether you’re on flat or hilly roads, you should accelerate, slow down, and take turns more slowly than you normally would. Give yourself more time than normal to reach your destination.
- Only drive when necessary. In severe weather, especially those unused to snow-driving should only get behind the wheel when necessary. Plan errands so you can make one trip, and invite a neighbor or friend to tag along, to decrease the number of cars on the road.
- Keep your distance while snow-driving. Snow and ice require longer stopping distances than in clear weather. If you’re prone to tailgating or driving with a lead foot, this is not the time nor place! The slipperier the conditions, the farther down the road you should look. Anticipate what you’ll need to do next and triple the stopping distance when ice and snow are in the equation.
- Know what to do if you hit ice. Hint: it’s NOT to hit the breaks. Hitting ice and skidding is most common on bridges, overpasses, and shady areas. If you hit ice, take your foot off the accelerator and do NOT jab the brakes, instead steer the wheel and point your head in the direction you want to be driving, not the direction the car is skidding. Invest in snow socks or snow tires to help keep your traction on the road.
- Be prepared. Have a reputable mechanic assess your car’s winter readiness and make sure your tires have strong traction. This allows you to repair or replace parts before the bad weather puts you in a bad situation. Have a kit prepared in case you get stranded for an extended period containing things like a phone charger, first aid kit, snow brush, ice scraper, water, energy bars, blankets, a shovel, cardboard if you need added traction when stuck, and a flashlight.
- Pay attention. Distracted, drowsy, drugged, or drunk driving could be deadly in even perfect driving conditions, adding snow and ice to the mix means you should be 100% sober and distraction-free. Keep phone calls, smoking, eating, texting, etc to either before or after your trip. Keep two hands on the wheel and two eyes on the road.
- Get winter tires. One of the best things you can do to keep yourself safe while snow-driving is to get fit for a set of four winter (or snow) tires. Winter tires provide more traction in snow, slush, and ice than all-season tires.
Hopefully these tips will help you enjoy the snowy weather rather than dread it. Connect with Courtesy Auto & Tire Tacoma if you’d like to have a winter-readiness assessment of your car or to get fit for winter tires!
For more tips, the Washington State Department of Transportation has great tips for snow-driving and driving in winter climates!