Winter Driving Tips

Driving in a Snowstorm

I've always lived the Northeast, so winter driving isn't something that's new. However, there are still situations that are tricky. 

If you can avoid it, it makes sense not to drive in a snow storm. It is much, much, safer to have a safe place to wait it out. But sometimes you have no choice, and sometimes you're taken by surprise. This happened to us last week. We knew it was going to snow, but we had no idea it was going to get so bad so fast, and we were caught on the road, trying to get home. AWD and new tires kept us steady, but that didn't make visibility any better or get the other cars off the road. Here are a few tips to keep you as safe as can be.

Maintain Safe Distance.
When everyone is creeping along and there's a line of traffic as far as you can see, it's tempting to think that you are safe. But snow and ice building up makes keeping that distance even more important. Take the three second rule for every day driving and double it during a snow storm. You need to make sure that you have as much time as possible to stop safely. It's frustrating when you want to get off the road quickly, but go slow.

Clear the Snow
Get as much snow off as you can before you start, and then make sure you're running your wipers and defroster to avoid any additional buildup. In the winter it's important to always have a full tank of washer fluid and good wiper blades.

Remember How to Control a Skid
Don't let panic take over when your wheels start to slip. Steer in the direction you want your car to go.

Be Smart With Your Brakes
ABS brakes are very effective if you use them right. Firm, constant pressure is needed - don't slam the brakes on and don't panic when you feel them starting.

Take a Smart Route
My husband loves the idea of the shortest distance from point A to point B, but that isn't always the smartest choice in the snow. I insisted on taking a route that had the least amount of hills possible, even though it took the long route around the hilly area. 

Lower Gear
I've only driven automatic cars, so my shifting instinct isn't as good. But once I remember to drop into a lower gear, it does help my car stay stable on hilly roads. Driving in the snow isn't the best time to experiment if you've never done this before, but it can help a lot.

Obviously the safest thing to do is stay home until the plows have done their work, but if you have to drive, keep calm and remember how to keep your car moving ahead!

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