The first snowfall of the year can be a magical time. It kicks off the season of joyous activities like building snowmen, brewing up some hot cocoa, and cozying up by the fireplace.
However, it also begins a period of freezing, damp weather conditions. Therefore, exercising extra caution when driving in snowy weather is essential to avoid losing control of your vehicle on icy surfaces, potentially leading to an accident. Here are five tried and true practices that could prevent you and your vehicle from slipping and sliding in the snow.
- Drive slowly and smoothly. Today’s cars’ tires typically provide decent traction on slippery surfaces. However, sudden jerky movements of the steering wheel could cause a car to slide. Therefore, you should avoid making sharp turns, accelerating quickly, and slamming your brakes. Instead, be mindful and gradual when driving in icy conditions.
- Look far ahead. You should already be looking outward on the road to see what to anticipate as you drive, but you should look even further in this case. It is crucial to gauge upcoming road conditions as you go, especially in the wintertime.
- When skidding, look towards where you want to go. Remaining vigilant is essential when driving in icy weather conditions. If your car is skidding in another direction, you should always keep your focus on where you want your car to go and ease your foot off the brake to give your tires a moment to regain traction. This seems counterintuitive, but when you let your peripheral vision cover the direction of your skidding, you are more likely to turn in the direction you want to go.
- Pay attention to warning lights. If your car’s stability control warning lights up on the dashboard, it means that your car is beginning to slide from your intended path. When this happens, you should ease your acceleration to restore your vehicle’s stability.
- Think twice before relying solely on “All-Wheel Drive.” Chances are, you have heard that cars with “all-wheel drive” or “four-wheel-drive” are safer to drive in icy weather conditions. However, that claim may not be entirely accurate. These vehicles send their power to all four wheels instead of two, enabling non-slip acceleration when driving in a straight line. However, slamming the brakes and taking sharp turns yields the same unstable response as any other car.
Is All-Wheel Drive or Front-Wheel Drive Better For Driving in the Snow?
Surely there are advantages and disadvantages to vehicles with both all-wheel drive and front-wheel drive. Both types of cars have their limits to reckless driving on ice and in the snow. However, each type of vehicle has its own set of benefits.
The benefits of a car with front-wheel drive include:
- Better fuel economy.
- More interior space.
- Good all-season handling.
- Easier to service.
Alternatively, the upsides of a vehicle with all-wheel drive include:
- Best wet-weather handling.
- Better traction on ice and snow.
- Better off-road capability.
So, if you live in a colder climate or tend to drive off-road, all-wheel-drive might be your best bet. However, if where you live gets warm in the spring and summer months, you may save time, space, and money by choosing a car with front-wheel drive. Either way, you should drive carefully and stay alert to changing conditions regardless of vehicle type.
What Can I Do to Winterize My Vehicle?
According to Bridgestone Tires, a leading tire company, there are many measures you can take to “winterize” your vehicle and prepare it for the hazardous, icy weather conditions ahead. These tips include:
- Installing winter wipers
- Keeping washer fluid full
- Mounting winter tires
- Packing a winter safety kit
- Servicing your vehicle regularly (especially before it gets cold)
- Maintaining proper tire pressure
- Always keeping the gas tank at least half full
- Cleaning all debris from your vehicle
- Keeping your rear-window defroster in working order
For more details on winterizing your vehicle, you can find all of Bridgestone’s tips and tricks on preparing your car for the ice, sleet, and snow here.
What is the Best Way to Slow Down in the Snow?
When you drive in the snow and ice and feel your car start to slip from your path in any capacity, it can be frightening. However, there are many things you can do to prevent or minimize its potentially catastrophic effects. Besides driving smoothly and avoiding slamming on the brakes, as mentioned previously, there are some additional ways you can stay safe when driving on icy roads. Such as:
- Driving slow. When driving in inclement weather, you should always slow down. Not only does this lessen your chance of sliding and losing control of your vehicle, but it also allows you more time to react to road conditions and other drivers.
- Maintaining a safe distance from other cars. Avoid tailgating or following other cars too closely on the road. This gives you more room to handle deviations from the road and prevent a collision. In addition, you need more time to come to a safe and complete stop in icy weather. It is recommended that you give yourself upwards of six seconds between you and the car in front of you in the wintertime, depending on the severity of the weather condition.
- Utilizing your anti-lock brakes. Anti-lock brakes (or ABS brakes) are a crucial safety system in your vehicle. ABS brakes are an advanced braking system that works by automatically pumping your regular brakes. To activate ABS brakes, press firmly on the brake pedal without letting up. Although these brakes can still lock up on ice, it is a valuable tool to have when driving in snow.
Have You Been Injured in a Car Accident This Winter in North Carolina?
Sometimes, driving safely in the snow is not enough, and you can still find yourself in an accident. In that case, it is essential to have the guidance and support of an experienced car accident attorney for your best chance at a full recovery. That is why you can turn to the attorneys at Henson Fuerst, who will work hard to get you the compensation you need for your experience. If you or a loved one faced substantial damages in a weather-related car accident, fill out and submit a contact form on our website or call our office toll-free at 919-781-1107 for a free legal consultation today. At Henson Fuerst, we put you first.