Getting around on foot in winter is a precarious task in itself. So it is understood that driving in winter requires extreme caution and prep. It is vital that you thaw and de-ice all windows, ensure the engine is not frozen; your exhaust is not clogged, the tire pressure is adequate, etc. before you begin your journey.
Other simple steps that you can take to ensure a safe drive are wearing comfortable shoes that will let you feel the pedals. Avoid bulky, wet or snow covered boots because they are slippery and not to mention the snow can melt and fog up your windows.
Clear the snow
Additionally, you want to remove any snow sitting on the roof of your vehicle before you begin driving. If you do not, the snow could slump onto your front or rear windscreen blocking your vision at a critical moment when you suddenly brake.
Getting going is a trying, especially on snow or ice. It is recommended that you gently pull away in second gear and try not to let the engine go into high rev. Remember, high gears help you to control the car and prevent wheel spin.
It is understood that you need to drive slower in winter. You must remember that snow and ice hamper and takes more time than usual to slow or bring your vehicle to a halt. So double the distance you would usually maintain between your car and the others around you. Keep gear changes, braking and turning the vehicle to as smooth and slow as possible to avoid jerks and skids.
Preferably, use busier roads as they are usually gritted. If you find yourself on a road that is not gritted, avoid the wheel tracks of vehicles that have gone before you. The snow compressed by the vehicles that have gone before you is most likely to be more icy than fresh snow.
Controlling a skid
In the event you find your vehicle skidding, rule one is do not panic. Rule two is to keep you hand firmly in control of the steering wheel. Rule three – is to steer your car into the skid. That means that if the rear end of your vehicle is sliding toward the left, then steer your vehicle in the same direction. Rule four do not slam your foot on the brakes.
Climbing and descending
Whether winter or not, it is always recommended to shift down gears ahead of time to avoid having to change gears in mid climb. In winter, it is good to take a few seconds to let the other vehicles ahead of you pull away a little, so you can maintain a steady momentum and will not have to stop half way up. On the drive down, maintain the low gear and use a suitable low speed to go with it. That way you give yourself sufficient time to anticipate surprises and will not have to use the brakes. Again, you want to keep a large gap between you and the car ahead of you.
Stuck in the snow
If you are stuck in the snow, straighten the steering wheel, clear the snow from the wheels. Place a sack or an old rug in front of the tires to give them some traction.
About Author - The writer, Mary Hanks, is a certified driving instructor who tries to make a difference by helping make roads a safer place. She feels to ensure the safety of an establishment it is important that they make licence check mandatory.