How to Drive in the Winter

Driving in the winter can be tricky. The conditions can vary from wet to icy to snowy. You may experience multiple conditions in just one driving trip, so you want to be prepared and know how to handle each one safely and effectively. Here’s what you need to know about driving in the winter.

Have the Proper Tires

Having the correct tires on your vehicle during the winter months is probably the most important factor in driving safely during winter. The tires you use for summer driving won’t be effective in the snow. If you deal with serious winter conditions that include snow, ice, and freezing water on the roads, you’re going to want winter tires. All-season tires are different from winter tires. All-season tires are more stiff than winter tires, which actually reduces their grip on ice.

Check Your Brakes

During winter conditions, you want your brakes to be in their best condition. If you’re already dealing with brakes that are struggling to do their job, adding winter condition to the situation won’t help. For everyone’s safety have your brakes checked.

Driving in Icy Conditions

Ice and black ice conditions require cautious driving. Black ice is regular ice that forms over pavement, but because it forms without bubbles it becomes transparent making it hard to see. During cold temperatures it’s a good idea to drive slowly in the event you hit an icy patch. If you do, it’s important to stay calm and don’t react in fear by braking quickly or swerving to get away from it. Continue driving straight. If you drive a manual car, you’ll want to shift into a lower gear. If you begin to skid, you can press lightly on the brakes. In a car with anti-lock brakes, press the brake with even pressure and let the ABS take over.

Driving in Snowy Conditions

Snow can also create hazardous driving conditions. Snowy roads can make it difficult to slow down as quickly as you’re used to, so leave a good amount of space between you and the car in front of you. In the event you have trouble slowing down, you’re less likely to hit them. When driving, don’t press too hard on the gas as you never know when you might encounter a patch of ice. If you have a four-wheel drive, be aware that you need to take the same care as other drivers. While you may be able to get going faster, you face the same issues slowing down as anyone else, especially if you hit ice.

In addition to the tips listed above, it’s also a good idea to keep your gas tank at least half full for two reasons. If you get stuck on the road, you don’t want to run out of gas. But keeping the gas tank at least half full will keep the fuel line from freezing up. It’s not always possible to avoiding driving during wet, icy, or snowy conditions, but you can learn to drive safely in these conditions.