Surviving Winter Driving Conditions

The Midwest can have some ‘interesting’ driving conditions throughout the seemingly never-ending winters. It think it would be a lot easier if we all attended the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colorado, and actually learned how to drive in winter conditions. They have three ice-covered tracks with soft snowbanks to use as learning tools. I think all of us can relate to the crazy All-Wheel Drive vehicles flying past us on the interstate and then finding them in the median about a mile up the road. Or there is the other end of the spectrum…the people who have their white knuckles clenched to the wheel driving 35 mph when there is just a dusting of snow on the road.  

 

Mark Cox is the school director at Bridgestone, and he has provided some tips to making it through the winter in one piece. Cox says when drivers are about to get behind the wheel in trying conditions, they need to first get into their ‘winter zone’. It is his job to teach drivers how to reach that place. Cox also said people think it’s imperative that they have quick reactions in such driving conditions, but it is actually better to avoid situations where you need to react quickly. The slick roads do now allow for fast breaking or swerving.

Tips for Safe Winter Driving:

1. Scan the Road Ahead
If cars ahead are braking or swerving, it could indicate ice, a slick intersection, or a deer is on the shoulder of the road. Blowing snow can be a sign of drifting, and pay close attention to hills and curves. Even if the straight stretches are clear, that doesn’t mean the curves will be the same.

*Stopping distances can be increased by 4 to 10 times in snowy or icy conditions.

2. Don’t Rely Too Heavily on Technology
Remember that All-Wheel drive helps you accelerate, but it does not help you stop. The added weight from the AWD system can actually make it more difficult to stop.

3. Follow the Rule 1-2-3
When wanting to make a turn on a slick surface, count to three. First, brake to an appropriate speed. Release the brakes and steer through the turn. DO NOT ACCELLERATE UNTIL THE TURN IS COMPLETED.

4. Betrayed by Tired Tires
Modern technology has caused a lot of us to forget about putting Winter tires on our vehicles. A few decades ago, it was standard to swap out your tires before the dead of winter set in. These days, we just don’t think about it. For those of you who use tires for ‘mud & snow’ could actually be getting about 33% more traction if you put winter tires on for the snowy part of the year. Mark Cox says a set of winter tires is almost always less expensive than your insurance deductable. When you take them off in the spring, you have actually saved the tread on your summer tires and the winter tires will probably last you 2 or 3 more winters.

More Winter Driving Tips 

 

  • Install Winter Wiper Blades
  • Use gas stations’ squeegees to clean off your headlights
  • Test your battery for efficiency
  • Use your air conditioner (fresh air mode) and your defrost together to keep your windows from fogging over.
  • Brush all of the snow off your vehicle before you begin driving so it isn’t a safety hazard for you or the drivers around you.
  • Cary a scraper and brush, a small shovel, jumper cables, a flashlight, tow strap, and even a sleeping bag and some food and water if you drive on rural roads often.

 

 

 

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