While the winter months bring about the holiday season, it also brings with it the most challenging part of the year for drivers. Combine decreased visibility with lower road traction, and it is no surprise that accidents become more prevalent.
We have compiled a list of tips to help you drive in snow safely during the winter months.
Have Proper Winter Tires
Your tires are your vehicle’s sole connection to the road. No matter how well-maintained a vehicle is, it won’t mean much if you use sub-par tires while driving in snow.
Winter tires have constantly displayed their prowess on winter roads when compared to summer and all-season tires. Studies have shown that winter tires can allow a car to stop 30% faster than all-wheel tires in the colder months. Winter tires have displayed the same amount of traction at -22 degrees Fahrenheit as all-season tires at 39 degrees.
There are two main reasons winter tires are the superior choice when driving in snow. The first is that they have deeper and more widespread tread patterns that are better suited to grab onto a snow-packed road. Secondly, unlike all-season tires, they use a different rubber compound that prevents them from becoming brittle.
However, using the best tire type for winter driving is not enough. It’s equally important to inspect your tires for damage and to ensure that the tread is still deep. Additionally, it’s essential to check your tire pressure, as your tires will lose pressure as the temperature decreases.
Snow tire chains are excellent for extra traction while driving in snow. Snow chains wrap around your winter tires, providing even greater traction with their metal teeth. While they will limit the top speed of your vehicle, they are invaluable when traveling through deteriorating road conditions.
It is important to note that in certain places in Colorado, snow chains are not optional and you will be required to have them in your possession.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with the State’s traction and snow chain guidelines. For example, from September 1st to May 31st, all commercial vehicles traveling along I-70 between exits 133 and 259 must carry a set of chains. This mandate can also extend to passenger vehicles if the State deems it necessary. At Mountain Recovery we sell and install snow tire chains for commercial vehicles.
Even with proper tires, there is simply no getting around the fact that the road will be slippery. As such, drivers must maneuver their cars in a safe manner.
- Decrease Speed. It goes without saying, but in snowy and icy conditions, one should drive slower than on dry, warm roads.
- Drive Smoothly. Whether it’s a sudden steering wheel turn or accelerator push, a jerky movement can make your tires lose traction with the road and, in turn, cause you to lose control of your vehicle completely. Be deliberate and smooth with your turning, accelerating, and braking.
- Keep A Distance. Account for the increased stopping distance by giving extra space to the car in front of you. If you find yourself close to the front end of a semi-truck, it may be prudent to either increase space or change lanes.
- No Cruise Control. While cruise control is undoubtedly a handy convenience feature, it is a potential danger when used while driving in snow. If your car loses traction and skids, cruise control will accelerate to keep the pre-set speed, potentially sending your vehicle into danger.
- Turn On Your Lights. Snowy conditions are typically accompanied by reduced visibility. It’s important that you keep your lights on while driving throughout any time of day, making it easier for other motorists to spot you.
Keep A Full Tank
The benefits of keeping a full tank while driving in snow are two-fold. The more obvious reason is that if you, unfortunately, find yourself stuck on the road, you’ll have plenty of fuel to keep your car running and warm.
Additionally, a full tank will provide extra weight to the rear of your vehicle. This additional weight will press your tires into the ground and further help traction.
Since driving through snow is already challenging, you should avoid an obstructed windshield and ensure that your windshield wipers make good contact with the glass.
Consider upgrading your windshields during the winter months. Beam blades use a different type of steel structure, capable of a more even and consistent contact with windshields.
Regardless of blade choice, it’s essential to check the blade itself to see if it’s in good condition. Lower temperatures and UV exposure can wreak havoc on the rubber blades and make them prone to becoming brittle and cracking.
Opting for de-icing wiper fluid can also lead to safer winter driving. As opposed to regular windshield wiper fluid, de-icing fluid uses a small amount of anti-freeze. This not only stops it from freezing once temperatures go below 32 degrees but also helps melt any ice that’s stubbornly stuck to your windshield.
In combination with heavy-duty wipers, you should have no issue seeing through your windshield while driving through snow.
Prepare For Nighttime Driving
Winter driving is partially characterized by shorter days. While you may typically not find yourself driving in the dark throughout the year, the shorter days may make your return commute much darker than you are used to.
It goes without saying, but vehicle accidents are more likely to occur with lowered visibility. Combined with the lower temperatures slippery roads, and the situation will call for your undivided attention. Ensure your windshield is clear and your headlights are in working order, free from debris.
Accident Towing Services In The Winter
While the last thing you want to deal with is breaking down on the side of the road during winter, you can rest assured that Mountain Recovery is there to help get your car out of any situation.
If you are involved in any automotive accident in Eagle County or Summit County, Colorado, and need a tow, Mountain Recovery can meet you at the scene. When in need of a tow, call 970-476-1124. We are available 24/7, 365-days a year to help you get back on the road.