How to Safely Drive in Snow and Ice

How-to

The shortest and possibly best advice, in this case, is simple: don’t. Driving in the snow or any other kind of severe weather should be avoided at all costs unless you absolutely must. So let’s consider this article to be for those times when you absolutely have to drive in the snow and have no choice in the matter. In that case, there are two things to makes sure of:

  • You’re adequately prepared for the worst before you leave your house or wherever it is you’re driving from
  • You know what to do if you end up getting caught up in bad weather, especially if it was calmer when you left your house

Prepare Adequately

The first thing you should do is prepare yourself. Your car isn’t the only one that should be in top form for the drive in bad weather.

  • For starters, give yourself some more time. If you’re leaving early in the morning then wake up early and give yourself plenty of ample time to dee-ice the car. If you’re going on a long distance journey, then give yourself even more time.
  • You should plan your journey in advance. Make sure it is plotted along major roads wherever possible and avoid as much as you plotting shortcuts through minor roads. The major roads are far more likely to be cleared during winter.
  • Make sure you’re warm enough for the journey with the right clothes and shoes. Get yourself a coat, a blanket for when you have to leave your car behind, some good strong gloves, a hat, and thick gloves.
  • Carry some food, snacks, and hot beverages to keep you well nourished.
  • Charge your smartphone to full capacity before the trip. Also carry a shovel for clearing snow and something to put under your tires when they get stuck, such as old carpet bits.

Once you’re fully prepared, you need to prepare your car.

  • If possible, get special winter tires for your car. These tires have the extra grip to handle winter snow. If, on the other hand, you decide to stick to regular tires, make sure they have at least 3 mm of tread and are well inflated.
  • Make sure your car battery is well charged for the trip. They tend to run down much faster in the winter. You can do a long journey during regular weather or use a trickle charger to charge it.
  • Keep your screenwash topped up and have good quality antifreeze to prevent ice from forming in your tubes.
  • Some oil on your locks can help prevent them from jamming due to freezing. WD-40 will do them a world of good.
  • Have a full tank of fuel before you head out. If you ever find yourself stuck somewhere, you’ll have just enough fuel to keep your engine running for warmth or to get back home.
  • In the event that you get stuck in the snow, do not allow snow to accumulate in the exhaust to prevent noxious fumes from leaking back into the vehicle.

Driving in Winter

  • Before you begin your journey, make sure to clear all ice and snow from the windows, roof, and windshield of the car.
  • Avoid de-icing your windshield with water as it will just freeze again and hot water may crack the glass.
  • For better control, while driving, stay in high gear. Also, pull away in second gear and be gentle as you lift the clutch so your wheels don’t spin.
  • Don’t drive too fast or too slow. Too fast and you’ll lose control; too slow and you’ll lose momentum.
  • Keep your actions smooth. This includes braking, accelerating, and steering.
  • Magnify your stopping distances by a factor of ten.

What if you’re stuck?

  • You can begin by turning your wheels from one side to the other to clear the snow away. Just don’t try to move as you’ll dig yourself deeper into the snow. You can use a shovel to clear the snow and pour in some carpet bits, gravel, or sand to help your vehicle get traction.
  • You can also shift from reverse to forward repeatedly while touching the accelerator pedal lightly till your vehicle begins moving again.
  • If the car doesn’t move, keep yourself warm and ensure the exhaust doesn’t get blocked by ice or snow. If there is too high a risk of that happening, then refrain from running the engine for more than 15 minutes in an hour. Stay in the car and close the door. You can also hang a piece of cloth with bright colors on it so people know there is someone in there.