How to Drive in the Heart of a Snowstorm

We have a big and bad snow shower coming our way tonight. Hopefully most of you will be inside all safe and snug. However, some of you may find yourself out driving in the middle of the worst. It can be a scary situation when your wipers can’t seem to wipe away the snow fast enough for you to see through, the wind seems to become the bully of nature, trying to shake your car from side to side and you feel as if you don’t know when you are in control of your vehicle. The best thing to do is not panic, but here are some useful driving tips you can follow to help keep you in control:

  1. Don’t assume your vehicle is going to be able to handle a certain situation with ease (including all-wheel-vehicles!). Even a slight turn could end up in a disastrous fish-tail. Take seemingly simple maneuvers very cautiously.
  2. For better traction switch to a low gear, this is especially important on hills.
  3. SLOW DOWN and leave yourself at least three times more space than usual between you and the following vehicle.
  4. When coming to a stop, start GENTLY applying your brakes well in advance to ensure you don’t forcefully skid yourself into the stop. If your wheels start to lock up ease off the brake momentarily.
  5. Be sure your lights are on so others can see you better.
  6. It’s not a good idea to pass snow plows and sanding trucks. Drivers of these vehicles have limited visibility and the road in front of them is going to be worse than behind them.
  7. When driving over icy roads do not use cruise control or overdrive. Use EXTRA caution on bridges and overpasses because these areas will freeze first.

When Your Rear Wheels Skid…

• Take your foot off the gas.
• Steer into the direction of the skid – if your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right to correct the vehicle. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
• If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
• Most vehicles will have anti-lock brakes (ABS) – Do not pump these brakes. Apply steady pressure, as the vehicle comes to a stop you will feel the brakes pulse but this is normal.
When Your Front Wheels Skid…
• Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t steer immediately.
• When the vehicle starts to slow down, steer in the direction you want to go and put the transmission in gear and accelerate gently.

Most importantly, If there is any way you can postpone travel during these snow storms by all means do it – it’s not worth the risk of potential vehicle damage or bodily injury. If you do find yourself out during one of these storms, however, follow these tips and you will hopefully find yourself at your destination instead of in a ditch along the way.

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