Not all of my writings will have to do with cars or driving but this one does. Winter driving is a challenge for most of us. I have done my fair share of it. So here are a few tips that may save you an insurance claim.
While driving on snow or ice your car’s traction is reduced compared to driving on dry pavement. Your ability to stop, start out, and take a curve or turn a corner may be greatly affected. Being aware of this gives you the opportunity to plan ahead.
Leave much more room between yourself and the car in front of you than you normally do. Accelerate and brake slower and gentler than normal.
Especially if you find yourself in one of our ice storms, keep all steering movements slow. Don’t jerk the wheel, just make changes slowly. By going around a curve too fast the G forces can be enough to break what little traction you have, and cause you to start skidding or worse. Don’t let centrifugal force intensify problems.
If you find yourself in a skid, turn the steering wheel in the direction you are skidding to. If you are on the brakes, release them as it doesn’t help traction to have the brakes locking up. Correct the skid and then reapply the brakes.
Trying to stop try pumping the brakes gently instead of stepping hard on the pedal, this will allow you to steer and to allow built up snow to clear from in front of your tires. It will also create slow changes in velocity and direction which helps you prevent a skid in the first place.
Most importantly slow down early for curves, stop lights/signs and intersections. This could be extra important because even in situations where you have the right of way, other drivers around you may not be able to stop. There’s a lot to be said for defensive driving.
The best advice I can give you is watch the weather reports for a few days in advance and do your shopping in time to be home safe and warm before the storm hits. You’re probably safest just not driving in bad weather at all when that’s an option.
Now, you can’t carry everything you may need in case you are stranded or in a ditch, but you can make up a bag of essentials for winter emergencies. Carry extra heavy winter clothes. Carry a few Hot hands [chemical hand warmers] and even if it turns out you don’t need but them, you can give them to someone else that is stuck waiting on a tow truck.
Remember to pack some bottles of water and some snacks. Just enough to hold you over till morning or keep your energy up during a trying time. If you do have to be stuck, you’d be really glad if you remembered to pack an old blanket.
Most everyone has a cell phone, but unfortunately there are large gaps in coverage areas so there may be no way to call for help, especially if you didn’t know the only signal for miles could be had by standing on the south side of the 3rd fence post after the last dirt road you passed. Don’t laugh, there are some places that remote or ineffectively serviced by cellular providers. So it’s always a good idea to let someone know where you’re going, when, and what roads you’ll be using…just in case.
Be careful and remember if you slid off that curve, someone else might just do it, to, so don’t hang out on the traffic side of your car – or the side someone might slide into. You’ll need to pick a place where you’re as safe as you can be for your circumstances.
Stay safe and stay happy.