Maybe you’re used to the bone-chilling winters of New England. Maybe you just saw snow for the first time in your life. Either way, here are 6 great tips to give you more confidence on the roads once the snow starts falling. Keep in mind that a big part of being a good winter driver is experience. No matter what vehicle you’re in, use caution and always expect the unexpected.
1. Be light on your pedals
Don’t slam on the brakes (you’ll lose traction) or slam on the accelerator (your tires will spin). Instead, do things in moderation. Keep your speed lower than normal and be aware of your surroundings. This can help prevent unpredictable and abrupt adjustments that can cause you to lose control.
2. Don’t go charging up hills
Even beefy 4-wheel-drive vehicles can struggle going up steep slopes in the snow. If you’re giving your vehicle too much gas, you run the risk of your tires spinning faster than they’re able to grab the surface beneath them. This could cause you to lose traction altogether, bringing your vehicle to a standstill or causing it to slide backwards.
3. Avoid cruise control on slick surfaces
Cruise control can add a new layer of unpredictability when the road conditions are constantly changing. If you’re driving in snow or it’s slick out, avoid cruise control altogether.
4. Keep additional supplies in the trunk
Always be prepared to get stuck in winter weather, whether it’s a slide into a snowbank or standstill traffic. Think ahead by packing water, non-perishable food, snow gear, and a first aid kit. Just keep them in your trunk all winter long. Here are a few more other things you might want to include.
5. Give yourself some extra space
While driving in the snow, it’s recommended that you (at the least) double the space between yourself and other vehicles on the road. The general rule of thumb is that you need one car length between your vehicle and the one in front of you per every 10 miles per hour of speed in normal driving conditions. On slick surfaces, that’s more like 2-3 car lengths per every 10 miles per hour of speed. For example, if you’re driving at 40 miles per hour, try to give yourself at least eight car lengths of space.
6. Keep Your RPMs Low
Perhaps the most important tip on this list, lowering your RPMs can help to throttle the speed of your acceleration. If you’re in a manual, try to start moving in 2nd or 3rd gear instead of 1st gear. Changing your default gear can also be done in many automatic cars by sliding the shifter into the D2 or D3 setting. You’ll find that your wheels tend to spend less time spinning and more time gaining traction.
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