You may think if you have a vehicle with ABS, traction control and four-wheel drive that you can drive the same speeds no matter how bad the weather but this is a common misconception. Black ice and slippery roads can hinder handling and stopping distances of even the most advanced automobiles. Winter driving takes a few tricks to learn to avoid our simple programmed human reactions. We sometimes freeze and panic and focus on the crash or accident rather than looking where we want to go.
Being in cottage country our roads really take a lot of grief whether it is tons of snow in November to freezing rain to 40 inches of snow over a few days. Learning how to properly drive on snow never hurts. Below are a few tricks to avoid being one of the cars in the ditch or in an accident.
- Brakes and turning- When turning a corner that you know is slippery you must apply the brakes to slow down then release and steer where you want to go, this release will let your wheels grip again to corner much better. (it is a human reaction to hold the brakes but this will hinder your steering ability)
- Vehicles without traction control- If you have a newer car this may not apply as you might already have this aid but a lot of older cars do not have this feature. Traction control stops your wheels from spinning when the roads are slippery to increase your grip. Watching your speedometer and making sure it is not going faster than you are and also feathering your throttle on slippery surfaces can sometimes give the similar results of traction control.
- Automobiles without ABS (Anti-locking Braking system)- When braking if you feel your pedal vibrating this is the abs system activating, but if you seem to just slide when you lock your brakes up you may not have ABS. Vehicles without ABS can achieve similar results if the driver pumps the brakes on and off to give more effective braking and increase steering ability.
- Look where you want to go- Looking where you want to go may seem simple but it is one of the most effective methods to driving in the winter, if you stare at the cars in front of you its hard to steer somewhere else. Looking to the sides of an accident or away from the ditch will help you greatly this winter on the slippery corners.
Did you know?
- Salt loses effectiveness and stops working below -13 C to -15 C, salt can only melt snow and ice in conditions above -13 C.
- All season tires in winter only work until -10 C. Snow tires are made from a softer rubber that can grip in temperatures below - 10 C where all season tires cannot.
Overall going slow is the best trick to winter driving as speed hinders your ability to slow down and have control on the roads. The best way to avoid an accident is to drive according to the conditions. Whether you are going to the cottage or just headed to the grocery store, take a few extra minutes to get where you need to go especially in harsh weather conditions. Drive safe this winter!