12 Winter Driving Tips from the Experts

by Susan Evans

We talked with snow plow drivers and auto technicians across the country – they see it happen and fix your car after that spin-out.

WHN Expert TIP – NEVER pass snowplows on the right! These vehicles cannot stop or maneuver as well as a compact car can. Allow plenty of room when passing a snowplow on the left and allow enough room when entering the lane ahead of the plow since the blade extends several feet ahead of the truck. Some snowplows are equipped with a “wing plow,” a 10-12 foot extension off the side of the truck. Be aware that the hazard exists. Danvers (MA) Patch

Here’s their advice:

Driving During a Snowstorm

  1. 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.
  2. If you must drive, clear the snow off of your windshield, windows, mirrors, headlights and brake lights. (No one can see covered brake lights!!)
  3. Make sure your wipers and headlights are turned on.
  4. Be patient – don’t rush! Remember, everyone else will be running late, too!
  5. 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).
  6. If you do come across a snow plow or sand truck, don’t panic.
    • Drive slowly and give them the right of way.
    • Leave plenty of room for stopping distance (at least 150 ft.).
    • Pay attention to the snow plow or sand truck and what it is doing. The vehicle may stop, back up or turn around suddenly
  7. Stay in the inside lane (the one farthest 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 onto the sides of the road.
  8. Drive in tire tracks that have already been established.
  9. Don’t change lanes unless it’s necessary – you could catch a wheel in the heavy snow or an ice patch and lose control.
  10. Watch out for black ice. Black ice is common under bridges and overpasses. It’s called black ice because it’s dark and hard to see.
  11. 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.
  12. 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.

Photo Credit: Wesley Tingey on Unsplash

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