12 Winter Driving Tips from Experts
We talked with snow plow drivers and auto technicians across the country — they see it happen and fix your car after that spin-out. Here's their advice:
Driving During a Snowstorm
WHN Tip: Snowplows - NEVER pass them!
These vehicles cannot stop or maneuver as well as a compact car can! Do NOT try to pass the snow plow or truck — that could easily cause an accident.
- To avoid getting your car towed or plowed in, review the parking restrictions and plowing routes for your city. You may need to move your car.
- If you must drive, clear the snow off of your windshield, windows, mirrors, headlights and brake lights (no one can see covered brake lights!!).
- Make sure your wipers and headlights are turned on.
- Be patient — don't rush! Remember, everyone else will be running late, too!
- Drive for the conditions. Go well below the speed limit: ice, heavy snow, traffic and poor visibility will require longer following and stopping distances (allow at least 8 to 10 seconds for stopping).
- If you do come across a snow plow or sand truck, don't panic, drive slowly and give them the right of way.
- Drive slow, leave plenty of room for stopping distance (at least 150 ft.) and pay attention to the snow plow and what it is doing.
- Snow plows and sand trucks may stop, back up or turn around suddenly.
- Stay in the inside lane (the one furthest away from the curb) on multi-lane roads. Single lane road? Drive closer to the middle of the road. Why? Snow tends to drift and pile up on to the sides of the road.
- Drive in tire tracks that have already been established.
- Don't changes lanes unless it's necessary. You could catch a wheel in the heavy snow or an ice patch and lose control.
- Watch out for black ice, common under bridges and overpasses. It's called black ice because it's dark and hard to see.
- If you need to make an emergency stop, don't pump the brakes if your car has an Anti-Lock Brake System (ABS). When you release the brake, your car's brake system will turn off and on.
- If you are stranded or stuck in a snowbank, do the following:
- Using the shovel in your winter car emergency kit, clear away the snow from around the tires, under the car and near the exhaust.
- If you have sand in your car, scatter it around the front tires (for front-wheel drive cars) or around the rear-tires (for rear-wheel drive cars).
- Put the car in a low gear and go SLOW. Do not spin the tires! This could ruin your clutch or transmission and create ice under your tires.
- If the situation allows (and it's safe), try to slowly "rock" the car back and forth to build a small amount of momentum.
- Call roadside assistance if you are unable to free the car.
WHN Tip: Winter Braking
Keep firm, steady pressure on the brake to keep the system on and fully-operational. Not sure if your car has ABS? Talk to your car dealer or auto technician.