Tips For Snow and Other Winter Driving Issues
In early 2018, Twitter User @Chadsu42, Chad Sullivan, made himself a viral sensation. The action was a labor of love and a wish for his fellow Carolinians to stay safe as a storm rolled in. North Carolina is not used to the snow, and when the Charlotte area was due for a storm, Chad tweeted the following to the local news center:
“If you rarely drive on snow, just pretend you’re taking your grandma to church. There’s a platter of biscuits and 2 gallons of sweet tea in the back seat. She’s wearing a new dress and holding a crock pot full of gravy.”
The tweet was meant to get laughs, and it did just that. The original tweet was liked over 1,000 times and shared over 400 times. Since then, the screenshot of the tweet being broadcast live on WAVE 3 news thousands of times, and people across the country are lauding him for his excellent advice.
Chad Sullivan knows how to keep himself safe in the snow – but do you? If you live in Kansas City or other snowy places in the United States, you should.
Here are some winter driving tips and tricks we think you should keep on the back burner.
Drive More Slowly Than You Normally Would
Even if you’re confident it is not icy outside, you should still be driving slower in the winter. During wintertime, light is decreased, and fog is more likely to happen. Precipitation in the evening makes it harder to see, as well, which means that during peak driving times, like on the way to work and on the way home in the evening, it will naturally be harder to see than it would at other times during the year. Because of this, and because of occasional black ice and increased deer crossings, you should take your time going to and from places.
Check Your Car Often
You don’t want to be stuck in a blizzard when you find out your car’s tires weren’t inflated properly and just hit a pothole. The best way to prevent accidents is to be proactive, which you can do by performing regular essential inspections. Check your car’s tire pressure frequently and fill it with air should it need it. Be sure your headlights are working each time you get in your vehicle. Replace your windshield wipers as soon as you notice them streaking. Check your fluids like you would any other time of the year. All these basic maintenance tasks are something you can perform while drinking your pre-work coffee or after pulling into the garage for the evening.
Know When To Stop (And When Not To)
Maybe you’re the type of person who likes to stop suddenly during dry, warm midwest summers. If you are that type of person, be sure to change your driving habits when the snow starts to fly. Brakes act differently when it is cold and icy.
- Avoid stopping on hills when it is snowing, icy, or just after a storm. Be sure to have enough speed going up a hill so that you don’t need to put the gas on your way up – that could lead to trouble. If you must brake going down a slope, begin at the very top and take your time.
- If you must stop and it is slick, remember to pump your brakes rather than applying steady pressure. This will give your car time to slow down without skidding suddenly over a patch of ice.
- Give yourself extra time to brake. If someone is driving in front of you, give them five or six times the room you would typically give them.
Keep An Emergency Preparedness Kit In Your Car
All cars should have a few standard emergency items in them, including jumper cables, a first aid kit, a flashlight, and a tow strap. What you keep in your car during the rest of the year will likely depend on the weather and climate. For winters in the midwest, we recommend keeping the following items in your car at all times (in addition to your basic emergency kit):
- An ice scraper and snow brush
- A blanket
- Hat and gloves
- A shovel
- Cat litter (it melts snow and provides traction should your car become stuck)
- Extra auto fluids, including coolant, windshield fluid, and more.
- Road flares or emergency cones
- Extra water and non-perishable food
- A spare cell phone charger
- A small toolkit
This might sound like a lot, but when it comes down to it – it’s better safe than sorry.
Keep Cruise Control Off
It’s very tempting to turn on cruise control, especially when we do a lot of long, tedious driving tasks. But while cruise control is perfectly safe, and even preferable, on the hot, dry roads of Missouri during the summer, it can become hazardous in the winter.
Using your brain and foot power to handle the brakes and acceleration during winter is beneficial for many reasons. For one, it gives you a constant read on road conditions. During the winter, roads can go from dry and manageable to slippery and dangerous in a moment’s notice. Having an idea of what the road feels like beneath you will help you drive more safely and change your driving tactics should you need to. Additionally, because cruise control is in control of your car, it might try to speed the car up when it skids on ice or snow – which can be dangerous. Drivers should steer clear of cruise control in situations that call for their full attention.
Stay Home When Roads Are Very Bad
The best prevention, of course, is keeping yourself out of danger. Don’t head out to a concert in a blizzard or drive to your grandma’s house to shovel when it’s still snowing. You’ll save yourself time, money, and grief by just using common sense and staying off the roads when they get rough.