5 Easy Winter Driving Tips THAT WORK! (and other great tips)


Use these winter driving tips to drive safer all year - not just 3 months of the year.

1. Is it necessary to drive? If so leave earlier. For every 1 mile you travel you should add 3-5 minutes to your normal driving time.

2. Whether a red light, stop sign, yielding, or other situation begin slowing down sooner so you don't slide into the intersection or another car. Also begin slowing down earlier before you start to enter a center turn lane. Center turn lanes are less traveled and usually have worse traction.

3. Keep more following distance. The recommended following distance during good driving conditions is at least 3 seconds. When you feel you have good following distance - increase it even more. You should add 1 second of following distance to the standard following distance formula.

Following Distance Formula

Normal Driving Conditions -

Start with 3 seconds of following distance for speeds up to 30 mph. Then add 1 second for each additional 10 mph. So at 80 mph you should have 8 seconds of following distance.

Winter Driving Conditions -

Start with 4 seconds of following distance for speeds up to 30 mph. Then add 1 second for each 10 mph. So at 40 mph you should have 5 seconds of following distance (300 feet).

4. Think about your traction and other vehicle’s traction in all driving situations. Many people forget about traction issues and pull out onto the road only to have their tires spin while road traffic is headed towards them. Only pull out when there is lots of space (and time) to enter the lane safely and achieve traffic speed. If you don’t - vehicles driving down the road may not have traction to avoid hitting you.

5. Slow down. Since traction is an issue, basic vehicle control is very important. So the faster you drive the more wrecks you get in because the less control you have. But there is another reason lowering your speed is important. As referred to in my blog on speeding, how fast you drive significantly impacts your scanning ability. The faster you drive the more you look only down your lane (not looking anywhere else). In the winter time you may have decent traction but you have to look more often down your lane just to try to stay in it - wherever the lane actually is (snow covers the lines making it tough to gauge where you are). So in order to legitimately keep your eyes on the road while still scanning for hazards it's absolutely necessary to slow your speed down.

Other Great Tips

Take turns slower, wider, and only accelerate when your close to going straight.

Drive with your full headlights on all the time.

Clean your tail lights. They can get very dirty reducing people's ability to see turn signals or brake lights.

Drive in fresh snow for more traction only if it is less than 3 inches in a car, 4 inches in an suv, or 5 inches in a truck. If the snow is too deep try driving in the tracks from other cars. Warning: Sometimes fresh snow can cover black ice.

When stuck, in an automatic you can rock the car by changing from Drive to Reverse quickly.

Do not use cruise control.

In a manual vehicle use a higher gear. So if you normally drive in the fastest gear after 50 mph - use this gear for 40 mph.

Use your turn signals earlier (this should be done in all driving conditions)

You may have to barely run a red light if you cannot stop before entering the intersection. This is why you should be extra careful when turning right at a light - someone could slide through the intersection and broadside (t-bone) you.

Keep survival gear including water in the vehicle - not in the trunk. You could be trapped and unable to get out of your vehicle.

Tell people your route and your expected time of arrival (eta). On longer road trips stop at every town/city and text your time, locations, and next destination.

Turn your vehicle off if your tailpipe if covered in snow and proper exhaustion is impossible.

Do not underestimate the slickness of slush. Avoid slush at all costs.

Estimate your lane position when you can't see the lines by looking at the curb. Also since no bicycles are in the bicycle lane feel free to drive a couple feet closer to the curb. Each lane is usually 10 - 14 feet wide. Use traffic signal directional signs to gauge how many lanes there are and which ones turn or go straight.

Remove all snow from the top of your vehicle. Hitting the brakes could cause the melting snow on your roof to slide down covering the entire windshield. In this situation you may be driving completely blind for 5 to 10 seconds until the windshield wipers can clear the snow. It is also wise to remove snow off your hood.

Hard snow sheets may fly off a vehicle in front of you at high speeds. Do not let this spook you. The snow sheets will not damage your vehicle.

Avoid hitting large chunks of snow. They may be extremely hard with dirt and rocks mixed in with it.

Use winter windshield wiper fluid for dirty water that splashes on your window. It can also help remove ice off your windshield quicker.

Just as you should not drive in the high water parts of the lane to avoid hydroplaning, you should avoid these same lower areas of the lane where water can freeze. Most people say “don’t drive in the ruts”.

Center turn lanes (share lanes) are usually not treated with ice melt. Even though the main roads may have good traction the center turn lanes could be very slick. Before going into a center turn begin slowing down earlier while still in the main driving lane. Please keep in mind you will be tailgaited when you slow down earlier - but you don't want to enter too fast and slide through the center turn lane into an oncoming car.

If you walk to your car and almost slip...this means there is probably black ice on the road.

Driver slower on the bridges, overpasses, or in shady areas (behind trees or buildings where the sun does not reach).

If it is cold and foggy there is probably black ice. Even if it is above freezing there could be black ice.

All-weather or winter tires will not help traction on black ice. Only studded winter tires will significantly help. A very heavy vehicle will help a little.

1. This is probably the hardest but most important strategy for the winter or any time driving - leave earlier (if it is necessary to leave at all). You will need more time to get to your destination not just because you must drive slower, but also because there are going to be more wrecks, many lanes may disappear (some 3 lane roads may turn into 2 lane roads because people can't see the lines), and you need to be more patient. For every 1 mile you travel you should add 3-5 minutes.

2. Start slowing down earlier when approaching a stopping situation. Whether a red light, stop sign, yielding, or other situation begin slowing down sooner so you don't slide into the intersection or another car. If it doesn't feel weird slowing down earlier - then your probably not slowing down earlier. Also begin slowing down earlier before you start to enter a center turn lane. Center turn lanes are less traveled and usually have worse traction.

3. Keep more following distance. The recommended following distance during good driving conditions is at least 3 seconds. When you feel you have good following distance - increase it even more. You should add 1 second of following distance to the standard follow distance formula. This can also be difficult as you might feel like your holding people up. Just remember you're driving the same speed as the guy in front of you but you have more following distance. Following distance allows for smooth stops as mentioned above preventing sliding or getting rear-ended by the vehicle in back of you.

Following Distance Formula:

Normal Driving Conditions -

Start with 3 seconds of following distance for speeds up to 30 mph. Then add 1 second for each additional 10 mph. So at 80 mph you should have 8 seconds of following distance.

Winter Driving Conditions -

Start with 4 seconds of following distance for speeds up to 30 mph. Then add 1 second for each 10 mph. So at 40 mph you should have 5 seconds of following distance (300 feet).

4. Have more patience when pulling out onto the road. This is tied-in with #1 above. Many people forget about traction issues and pull out onto the road only to have their tires spin while road traffic is headed right towards them. Only pull out when there is lots of space (and time) to enter the lane safely and achieve traffic speed.

5. Slow down. This is not a new secret tip. Driving slower during the winter time when there is poor traction is usually the most popular winter driving tip. Since traction is an issue, basic vehicle control is very important. So the faster you drive the more wrecks you get in because the less control you have. But there is another reason lowering your speed is important. As referred to in my blog on speeding, how fast you drive significantly impacts your scanning ability. The faster you drive the more you look at your particular lane (not looking anywhere else). In the winter time you may not be driving fast but you have to look at your lane more just to try to stay in it - wherever the lane actually is (snow covers the lines making it tough to gauge where you are). Sometimes there are areas where snow plows have piled up snow or there are specific tracks you must follow in the snow (or maybe you have to stay out of the tracks to drive on fresher snow) challenge any drivers scanning ability. So in order to legitimately keep your eyes on the road while scanning for hazards it's necessary to slow your speed down.

Other Good Tips...

-Take turns slower, wider, and only accelerate when your close to going straight.

-Drive with your full headlights on all the time.

-Clean your tail lights. They can get very dirty reducing people's ability to see turn signals or brake lights.

-Drive in fresh snow for more traction only if it is less than 3 inches in a car, 4 inches in an suv, or 5 inches in a truck. If the snow is too deep try driving in the tracks from other cars.

-When stuck, in an automatic you can rock the car by changing gears quickly.

-Do not use cruise control.

-In a manual vehicle use a higher gear. So if you normally drive in the fastest gear after 50 mph - use this gear for 40 mph.

-Use your turn signals earlier (this should be done in all driving conditions)

-You may have to barely run a red light if you cannot stop before entering the intersection. This is why you should be extra careful when turning right at a light - someone could slide through the intersection and broadside (t-bone) you.

-Keep survival gear including water in the vehicle - not in the trunk. You could be trapped in your vehicle unable get out of your vehicle.

-Tell people your route and your expected time of arrival (eta).

-Turn your vehicle off if your tailpipe is covered in snow and proper exhaustion is impossible.

-Do not underestimate the slickness of slush. Avoid slush at all costs.

-Gauge your lane position when you can't see the lines. Since no bicycles are in the bicycle lane feel free to drive a couple feet closer to the curb. Each lane is usually 10 - 14 feet wide. Use traffic signal directional signs to gauge how many lanes there are and which ones turn or go straight.

-Remove all snow from the top of your vehicle. Hitting the brakes could cause the melting snow on your roof to slide down covering the entire windshield. In this situation you may be driving completely blind for 5 to 10 seconds until the windshield wipers can clear the snow. It is also wise to remove snow off your hood.

-Hard snow sheets may fly off a vehicle in front of you at high speeds. Do not let this spook you. The snow sheets will not damage your vehicle.

-Avoid hitting large chunks of snow. They may be extremely hard with dirt and rocks mixed in with it.

-Use winter windshield wiper fluid for dirty water that splashes on your window. It can also help remove ice off your windshield quicker.

-Just as you should not drive in the high water parts of the lane to avoid hydroplaning, you should avoid these same lower areas of the lane where water can freeze.

-Center turn lanes (share lanes) are usually not treated with ice melt. Even though the main roads may have good traction the center turn lanes could be very slick. Before going into a center turn begin slowing down earlier while still in the main driving lane. Please keep in mind you will be tailgaited when you slow down earlier - but you don't want to enter too fast and slide through the center turn lane into an oncoming car.

Archive
Search By Tags
Follow Us
  • Facebook Basic Square
  • Twitter Basic Square
  • Google+ Basic Square