Many dread mornings when the streets are blanketed in fresh snow and the snowplow hasn’t arrived yet. You have to get to work, so you have no choice but to drive in dangerous conditions. You may be a little anxious, but you get in your car and begin your commute. With no mishaps, your confidence grows as does your speed. Then, as you’re approaching a red light, you apply the brakes, and you immediately sense something is wrong. You’re not stopping. Instead, you rear-end the car in front of you and become part of the 1.5 million annual car crashes due to poor weather conditions. These awful driving conditions also lead to an estimated 7,000 deaths each year and over 800,000 injuries. Again, this is each year. That’s scary.
In this blog post, we will try to help drivers avoid becoming yet another statistic by explaining some common errors they should know about while driving in poor weather conditions.
Trusting a Four-Wheel Drive Vehicle
For the most part, four-wheel drive vehicles do offer better performance in snowy and icy conditions, although the technology can backfire by giving drivers a false sense of safety. The way four-wheel drive works is that it will send a specific amount of torque to each of the car’s tires to create enough traction to move through snowy roads. This doesn’t mean you can race down the street at high speeds and still bring yourself to a safe stop. All-wheel drive vehicles don’t give you traction to brake, but they will get you through some difficult terrain and conditions.
Not Being Prepared
One of the most dangerous times to be on the road is during the winter’s first snowstorm, and many driver’s find themselves caught off guard. Many haven’t prepared their cars for the winter weather and may have forgotten their snow driving techniques.
To prepare for winter, check your tires to make sure they have at last 6/32-inch deep tread. All-weather tires will be able to handle most driving conditions, but those who live in areas that get a lot of snow should consider purchasing snow tires. Be sure to check your anti-freeze levels and battery power, as well. For the inside of your car, purchase a small snow shovel and cat litter in case you need to dig yourself out of trouble. A flashlight and a snow scraper should also be kept in the car.
Following Too Closely
Inexperienced drivers will make a bad choice of following vehicles in front of them too closely. This will lower reaction time if there’s a problem ahead and you need to come to a stop quickly. It is recommended that you double or triple your following distance giving a minimum braking distance of six seconds.
You should also look ahead for stoplights, signs, and curves in the road, so you can be prepared to brake or steer correctly.
Slamming on the Brakes
It’s scary to feel your tires start to slip, and it’s easy to panic and slam on the brakes. This is a big mistake because it removes traction from your tires. You will no longer be able to control your vehicle.
If you lose traction and your wheels are locked up, slamming on the brakes will not help at all. You should instead ease off the gas pedal, and let the car slow down on its own. Because the tires are still moving, there is still traction, and you can steer your way out of an accident. If you must brake, and your car has an anti-lock brake system, brake steadily and with even pressure. If your car doesn’t have this system, pump the brakes by quickly braking again and again.
Driving Too Fast
The worst driving error to make, especially in snowy weather, is driving too fast. Drivers have a bad habit of thinking that once they’re on the highway, they can drive at their usual speeds. This is very wrong. When your car begins to slip and slide and you’re headed for an accident, every second counts. Driving too fast reduces the time you have to react and will increase the severity of the accident. It will also take four to ten times longer to brake on icy or snowy pavement than it does on dry asphalt.
When temperatures are at or close to freezing and snow has begun to fall, slow your speed. There is no right speed zone to be traveling in when it’s snowing. Pay attention to the roads and how your car is handling.