Driving in the winter is definitely challenging for everyone. Even the most adventurers find it difficult, but it doesn't mean that you should park your car for 3 months. The following is a list of tips that will make your life better and will surely help you to improve your driving skills during the winter:
Stop if you feel unsafe
This is tip #1 and will always be. Driving takes confidence and security above everything else. If you feel that under certain conditions, you feel unsafe, then don't drive and wait for these to improve.
If you leave your car parked and wait, you won't be taking any risk. Take a cab, public transport or walk, but never jump into the roads if you don't feel ready.
Winter Tires may not be mandatory in your province but will keep you safe
Winter Tires are designed to drastically improve the grip between your vehicle and the road under regular winter conditions. These will be keeping you from sliding, getting stuck and on control under regular winter conditions with mid-low levels of snow & ice.
Although not magic, winter tires have been tested to be the best city/road when drove consciously on top of the fact that it is winter and the speed + distance combination are carefully watched.
Stay up to date with the Forecast
You need to know what is coming. If you go out there, you definitely need to know what is coming. Preparation is mandatory for a successful ride.
If you know this night there will be 30cm of snow and your car is a sedan, then have the 2 options on hand for the morning after: either leave right after the snow removal operations started in your area or plan to take a public transportation earlier.
Distance is the key for a safe driving. Distance will always give you time to react, turn, slow down and even brake under safe conditions.
Just imagine there were 2 or 3 other cars between you and the one in front of you while you are rolling. When approaching lights and intersections, you can safely reduce the distance to avoid congestion.
AWD is better for accelerating, but not for driving safe
Most of the people think that AWD keeps them safer while driving on the snow. This is a relative truth. What will keep you safer is how you drive, the distance you keep from the ones in front of you and your tires.
AWD helps to speed up and get unstuck from the snow, but while doing sharp turns, many drivers feel overconfident because of it and then slide.
Watchout with bridges and highway borders
Bridges especially, receive cold wind flow from the top and the bottom of the structure. This makes these structures more likely to freeze from the inside out and easily create ice on the top wet surface. Be extremely cautious with this.
The same with the side of the roads, where salt is usually not directly dropped and cars don't go through, making this surface slippery enough for loosing the control on one side of your vehicle if you roll over it.
See and be seen
Snowfall during the daw? Take care of clearing up every window, light, and mirror. You can't be blindfolded while driving your piece of metal with an engine. You need to see and be seen.
Test how you react to emergencies
This may sound a little crazy, but it is something I do occasionally and definitely helps me to better understand and connect with my vehicle handling and maneuvering.
Not at all as a sense of taking risks, but to actually wake up all your senses, go for an empty parking lot, preferably in a closed area, where, after testing the security of the areas surrounding you, do the following test:
- Speed up a little bit over a layer of snow or ice and hit the brakes as you would usually do. You will feel how the car slides uncontrolled over the surface. THIS IS WHAT YOU NEED TO AVOID on the road. Do the same with some sharp turns and study your distance of brake.
Learn to manage your vehicle safely for you and the ones around you. The better you understand this phenomenon, the better you will be prepared to avoid it: distance, care, and attention to details.
Get a remote starter
Believe it or not, this will change your life. Your reactions to the cold, driving with gloves and shaking because of having -21 on the inside of your car during the first 15 minutes of your ride, definitely will affect the way you behave while driving.
Besides of driving, you will be experiencing a few other unexpected sensations that will populate your brain with noise and reduce your ability to react.
Getting a remote starter and jumping every morning into your warm vehicle will become priceless.