A snow storm is a cause of a terrific natural beauty. However driving in snowy weather can be very difficult and dangerous. For coping up with such situations, special winter weather driving techniques have to be employed for preventing skidding, collisions and spin-outs in the snow.
Icy roads can cause skidding out of control towards a solid object which is definitely an unpleasant event. The most disastrous scenario is when the driver loses control of his vehicle during snow storm and risking sliding towards people.
Here are some useful tips which might be helpful when driving in snow:
- One has to be prepared before going out in to the winter weather. Be sure that the winter is equipped properly. This means using snow tires or chains during extreme weather conditions. Before driving, remove snow from the car’s windows, headlights and rear lights.
- Driving fast is the first error when driving in winter, so slow down. Look for the road signs to choose the appropriate speed. If the roads are slippery, then every mistake will happen quicker and more dramatically. The stability systems, anti-lock brakes and other control mechanisms will be of no help when the car slides. If your speed is too fast then you will go off the road and there is nothing that can change that.
- Winter drivers must use their eyes in a more effective way. The drivers should be aware of road ice and other slippery conditions. Apart from that, double distance has to be maintained than usual between the car in front and at the back. A fairly easy calculation is almost four car lengths for every 10 mph when travelling. Keep looking ahead and be ready for any corners and other obstacles before arriving at them. A good driver will always look ahead and foresee the problems. On the contrary, an careless driver will not watch ahead and will be forced to react to sudden problems.
- When you are about to enter a corner, apply the brakes smoothly before reaching and then release them and use every grip of the car to corner. When you are through the turn, accelerate and move out. If you enter a corner with a lot of speed and then adjusting at the corner will make you lose the grip. During the braking of wheels, the surface becomes static and they will move multi-directionally. In such situation, the driver will lose the control on the vehicle.
- The effective and smooth controls of the vehicle have to be practiced. The controls should be used surely and smoothly. The steering wheel is the cause of most trouble. If steering wheel is controlled badly, the vehicle will become imbalanced. When it happens, the car will probably skid. This means that it is important to stay in control of the weight distribution of the vehicle. This will take some understanding of the physical dynamics of the vehicle.
- The driver should be informed whether the vehicle is four wheel drive, rear-wheel or front-wheel. The results due to loss of imbalance will be the same. The point to be understood is the where the mass of your vehicle’s weight lies and how the engine power will effect that weight. In case of a pickup vehicle, the whole weight is at the front with the cab and the engine, so with less weight, the rear wheels will have weak grip and the back end will slip out easily. Similarly, a rear-wheel vehicle like the ford Mustang GT has an irregular power to weight ratio, this makes its back end vulnerable to losing road grip on slippery roads. In case of a front-wheel drive and front-engine sedan like the Honda Accord, it also has a light rear which shifts all the weight to the front if the accelerator is abruptly lifted up in the corner.
- Try learning how a skid is controlled. This is definitely better practiced on a driving course. In case of an over-steering situation, go against your instincts and turn into the skid. Acceleration is also needed, this will be a cause of freaking out for many people. People will normally don’t think to accelerate for controlling the car. However in many over-steer skid cases, it can be controlled and a disaster can be avoided by simply releasing the brake and accelerating gently. This will transfer the weight to the rear wheels from the front wheel, this will allow the driver to steer in the direction of the skid, gain the vehicle’s control and continue safely. Incase you are driving a rear-wheel drive vehicle, dint over accelerate because the tires can spin causing you to over-steer and slide out of the turn. In a situation of an under-steer skid, it is important not to react naturally by over-correcting the steering wheel, by braking or doing both at the same time. The cause of under-steering is actually when the car enters a corner very quickly and then turns.
Tips and Warnings
- Tap the brakes when the car goes into a corner or curve.
- Fasten your seat belt. Winter driving is dangerous even for experienced drivers.
- When the need arises to drive in a snow storm, inform someone where you are heading and when your return is expected. This is important incase you get stranded.