Winter driving conditions like heavier than usual rain, snow, and ice will dramatically affect the braking distance of your vehicle. Your ability to execute a safe and smooth stop is dramatically limited because of the reduction of tire traction. In order to stop safely, the vehicle’s wheels must maintain traction by remaining on contact with the road surface while rolling. This is referred to as “rolling traction.” The key to safety when you drive on slippery winter roads is slower speeds, smoother stops and turns, and increased your following distances.
Driving in the snow can be a nightmarish ordeal and many times it can become dangerous. The best advice: Don’t drive, and if you must drive, here are some tips for keeping safer:
- Slow down; radically so. Leave plenty of room to stop — three times the normal space between you and the car in front of you. And turn on your headlights.
- Your car isn’t the Batmobile. Ask any firefighter: SUV, Jeeps, four- and front-wheel drive vehicles end up overturned and in ditches all the time.
- Use your breaks gently. If your wheels start to lock, ease off the brake. Most cars have ABS but manytimes even with the newer braking technology you may lose traction.
- Use your lower gears to assist with traction, particularly on hills. The lower gears are second (2) and first, (1) which appear below the “drive.” gear.
- Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses. Their surfaces freeze first, before the rest of the roadway.
- Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility. And, the road ahead of the plow is probably in worse shape than the roadway behind it.