• Ethan Johnson

5 Essential Winter Driving Tips & Tricks

Black ice, whiteout conditions, freezing temperatures, or all at the same time- driving in the winter can sometimes be a daunting task. Following these 5 tips will help make the winter a little less stressful, even if you don't have 4WD.

1.) Check your tires

Bald tires are almost completely useless in snow, ice, rain, slush, you name it. Make sure that your tires have deep tread. An easy way to tell is with the penny trick- put a penny in your tread, and if you can see most of Lincoln's face, you need new tires. If his head is covered, you're probably good! If you can afford it, get winter tires installed on your car. They'll help greatly in the elements, especially if your vehicle doesn't have 4WD.

2.) Feather your brakes and accelerate slowly

Feathering your brakes is just a fancy term for lightly pressing your brakes over and over until you come to a stop. This might take some practice to get right. Feathering your brakes will prevent your wheels from locking up and will allow you to come to a safe, slow, and comfortable halt. If you press on the brake too hard, your wheels can lock up and you'll slip down the road. The same can be said for accelerating too quickly. Doing so will put you at risk for slipping and will put your safety at an unnecessary risk. Needless to say- it's good to just drive slower in the winter in general.

3.) Carry an emergency kit

It pays to be prepared. Packing an emergency kit could save your life in a bad scenario. You should be packing a shovel, flare, heavy blanket, cell phone, water, sandbags, warning triangle reflectors, and a hat and gloves in your vehicle. Even a small snowbank can get your tires stuck. Weighing your trunk down with sand bags is another great way to help your tires find traction on an icy road. If you crash during a blizzard, you might not be found by passerby for at least a few hours, so it's more than useful to have these items on hand. Side note- if you do fall off of the road, make sure to clear snow from your exhaust pipe, or you might have to be more worried about carbon monoxide poisoning than winter weather. This is specially true if you're stuck outside and using your car to stay warm. Be sure to check your exhaust pipe often so that snow doesn't build up.

4.) Keep your distance and watch other cars closely

Staying 3-4 seconds behind the car in front of you will help you avoid a collision when you inevitably slip on ice. The more distance you can reasonably get from others, the better. When at a stoplight, make sure to look both ways when you get a green light so that you don't get t-boned by a driver that slipped while trying to stop. The hard truth is that it's very possible to slip into a busy intersection, even if you take all the necessary precautions and are a great driver.

5.) Plan your route ahead of time and check the weather

If you can't follow any of the other steps, follow this one. The only way that you can guarantee that you'll be safe in the winter elements is by simply avoiding them. Try to plan your trips around snowfalls so that street crews have time to clear the roads and put salt down. Staying off of back roads might help you avoid worse conditions and deeper snow.

What's your top winter driving tips? Leave them in the comments below!

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