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Winter Driving Safety Guide and Tips

These winter driving tips address two critical issues about driving in snow.

The first issue is one of prevention, that is, preventing one’s vehicle from getting stuck.

The second issue you’ll find further down the page is a step by step process you can use to extract yourself from being stuck, often without you or your passengers exiting the vehicle.

Smart winter driving tips will help you keep moving in the snow.

First, to make sure that you can see where you’re going, check out windshield wipers. You’ll find tips on getting your car out from under the snow and ready to go.

I do not recommend driving in deep snow without knobby winter/off-road tires and lots of weight and power in your vehicle.

If there is a lot of drifting snow and you are not familiar with the road, find a place to pull off and wait for the snowplows.

My all-season Michelins work fine for city driving in the winter. I am very cautious about taking on snowed-in driveways in the country, especially when I am in unfamiliar territory.

This winter driving tip should go without saying. I will even get out and walk an unfamiliar, snow-covered lane-way to check it out for accessibility.

Next, I will drive in slowly until my tires lose traction. Then I reverse along the track I just made until I am on a level spot. I start driving again along the route, this time increasing my speed very gradually. I go until my tires again begin to lose traction. I do not let them spin.

 

The best of all winter driving tips is…

Do Not Spin Your Wheels!

Do Not Spin Your Wheels!

Do Not Spin Your Wheels! 

I repeat this until I reach my target. Then I do my parking method below. I make the track as wide as possible. Sometimes, I will turn the car around to be in the right direction when I want to leave.

Whenever I park on snow-covered ground, as above, I pull into the park position carefully, in case there is something under the snow I can’t see. I then very slowly and carefully back out again the same way I came in. I repeat this a few times to make a nice packed-down track.

I also go back and forth a few feet where I park to pack down an excellent track for my wheels under my car. This gives me a stable path to drive on when I’m ready to leave, even if it snows the whole time I am parked, like overnight. I’m not stuck in the morning.

Why I don’t use winter tires, I feel confident that I can compensate enough for the slight difference in traction that winter tires provide. I do not need two sets of tires for my car.

Take a close look at winter and all-season tires and see if you can tell the difference. The tread looks almost identical, except for the little cuts across the top of the winter tires. The compound is different and only provides a small difference in traction at cold temperatures.

Here’s another winter driving tip. I know that the only real and small difference between all-season and winter tires is that winter tires have more traction in cold weather. That’s why I drive slower, with more distance between vehicles, in cold conditions.

I also test stopping ability on empty roads. I find little difference.

If they still made ‘knobby’ winter tires, I might consider them, but only if I lived where I had deep snow all winter. Those tires are very noisy when driving on dry pavement, which is most winter when you live in the city.

One source of information that I use for tire comparison and most other stuff I buy is Consumer Reports. There’s a lot of information there though you have to register to get full access. The fee is worth it. This is not an affiliate link.

I highly recommend this organization as it accepts no advertising, and its testing is unbiased. They provide the best value on a wide range of product comparison. This link, Consumer Reports, will open a new window and take you to the tire page. I’ll be here when you get back.

Winter driving tips to get you out when you’re stuck in the snow.

Spinning your wheels is the worst thing you can do when you’re stuck. The spinning creates ice under the tire, which equates to zero traction. You may eventually generate enough heat around the tire to melt through the ice to hit the ground. But the cost is high.

The wear and tear on your tires, power train, including your engine, will never be worth it. The extra fuel burned and pollution added to our air from all that pointless effort will never be a worthwhile or justifiable expense. There is a more comfortable and cheaper way.

Your winter emergency car kit has tools that will help you out when you get stuck.

The kit should include a small spade or shovel, a collapsed cardboard box, or an old rug, cut into strips as wide as a tire and about a foot long, and salt. I keep rock or road salt in an old plastic protein powder container.

Another winter driving tip: experience dictates an absolute minimum of rock salt, with a small shovel second in importance. That’s for those who choose to forgo a full kit.

The emergency part of the kit includes some matches, candles, blankets, and protein bars. The following process should ensure that you will never need to use the emergency part of the kit.

The ‘Rocking’ method.

A vital winter driving tip is that the techniques described here will work better for you if you practice them before you have to use them in the middle of nowhere.

Find some snow-covered ground, about 15 centimeters (6″) deep—Park where there are at least a couple of snow inches under your wheel.

Put the car in drive and shove down hard on the accelerator. You want to spin the drive wheels without moving the vehicle, only for a few seconds. Good. You now have an icy hole. Try to drive out of the hole you just created in a typical fashion. If your wheels spin, stop.

You can try the following rocking technique first without any digging, or salt, or anything else. Just follow the method described below. I find that I can get unstuck most of the time without ever getting out of my car.

(First winter driving tip for rocking: This is one of the few times you use both feet for the pedals.)

  1. Get in your car. Could you put it in reverse first?
  2. Maintain your left foot on the brake and right foot on the gas pedal; release the brake but keep your left foot lightly on the brake pedal. (This gives you the instantaneous control you need to make this work.)
  3. Very lightly push on the accelerator.
  4. The car will move backward a little until you feel the tire start to slip.
  5. Release the gas and immediately press the brakes hard to hold the car in place. (Second winter driving tip for rocking: Always bring the vehicle to a stop before shifting. The secret here is to keep the vehicle at the top of each side of the hole then use the downward momentum, even though it’s small, to get the car to the top of the other side of the hole. Hold the car there with the brakes while shifting. Rocking, though almost imperceptible at first, will eventually get you out.)
  6. Shift to L (low)
  7. Release the brakes and lightly touch the gas as the car moves forward.
  8. The instant the tire slips, lift your right foot off the gas and depress the brakes with your left foot.
  9. Put the car in reverse and repeat steps 2 – 5
  10. Repeat steps 6 – 8
  11. Repeat the entire process until you are unstuck.
  12. Suppose this above method does not get you out, brake and hold the car at the top of the hole, opposite to the direction you plan to use to get out. Extra winter driving tips for the ‘Rocking’ method. (With the parking brake on and the car in park, at the back upper end of the hole, use the following steps to help you escape the hole.)
  13. Dig the snow out from in front of the wheel in the direction you wish to go once you are unstuck. Dig it out to go slightly downhill to start (to help you gain momentum).
  14. Dig a path for all your wheels to a spot where you will have traction to drive
  15. Use salt from that container you carry in the trunk. Jam some under the front side of the drive wheels and spread it along the path. Make an initial attempt to drive out, rocking if necessary, using just the salt.
  16. If you need more traction, jam the rug or cardboard pieces under the drive wheels’ front edge.
  17. Once your wheels are on the rug or cardboard, and you should be able to drive. When you get moving, keep moving, even slowly accelerating, until you reach your traction spot.
  18. Stay prepared to stop immediately by stepping hard on the brakes should the wheel(s) start to spin.
  19. Back up a little on the path you just drove out on but not back into the hole.
  20. Put the rug or cardboard pieces in front of the driving wheels, as above.
  21. Repeat this drive and back-up technique until you are entirely unstuck. Keep re-using the rug and cardboard pieces as necessary. You may or may not want to keep the cardboard or rug pieces once you’re out. Refill the salt container at your first opportunity.

With the experience of these winter driving tips under your belt from practice, driving in winter conditions will be much less frightening or intimidating.

Come the winter season, and the number of accidents starts increasing with speed. Skidding in the snow is quite a common thing during the winters. However, this can end up in serious crashes, often claiming several lives. So certain winter driving safety norms must be followed to avoid such accidents.

It is taken for granted that you will probably encounter snowfall during most of your outings in the winter season. But if some safety tips for winter driving are followed, then there’s no doubt such accidents can be easily avoided. When you intend to drive during the winter, it is always better to warm up your vehicle beforehand. All you need to do for this is to get an extra fifteen minutes to start your car engine. If there is some frost or ice on your vehicle, it is best to turn on the defrost switch.

Make sure you wipe any snow from your car when you plan to take it out. This can ensure safe winter driving. For instance, while going, if you have to apply break suddenly and your car stops with a jolt, there is every possibility that the snow accumulated on your car top can fall on your windshield. If this happens, it can lead to sudden accidents that you least expected to occur. Following these simple but essential safety tips for driving in snow can help you to prevent accidents.

Always take adequate time in your hand while traveling in winter. Leave early for your destination. Do not hurry. Many accidents occur because people are often traveling too fast when the road conditions are not permissible for such undertakings. It also happens due to a lack of snow driving safety. You might very well experience situations during winter when road conditions would not permit you to travel more than 20 miles per hour. But if you choose to ignore these safety tips for winter driving, you might be inviting unwanted trouble for yourself.

 

When driving during winter, always remain alert, slow down when necessary, and stay in control of your vehicle. Learn about snow driving safety. Try to wear comfortable clothes so that your movement while driving does not get restricted. Make sure you have adequate windshield washer fluid in the vehicle reservoir so that you can utilize it during freezing temperatures. Keep in mind that bridges and crossings freeze before the regular travel roads. So keep a sharp lookout for black ice or shiny or black patches on the road so that your vehicle suddenly does not lose traction. Always slow down your car when you come across these patches and keep your foot off the brakes. If these safety tips for driving in snow are followed and safe winter driving is ensured, you can easily keep accidents at bay.

During winters, if you keep a winter survival kit in your car, then it will enable you to combat snow any time you want. All you need to do is keep back in the trunk a shovel, flashlight, batteries, energy food and drinks that are nonperishable, candles, waterproof matches, etc. so that you are prepared for all situations.

Winter driving safety is no big deal if these precautions are followed sincerely. So ensure you do so if you value your life.