Winter Driving Tips

By Reilly Doak

Even though we seem to be nearing the back end of winter; keep in mind this IS Cleveland and anything’s possible. In order to better prepare yourself for the rest of winter driving, here are a few tips:

Have your lights ON! This increases not only what you can see, but other drivers can see you

If your rear wheels skid: take your foot off the gas, and steer in the direction you want your front wheels to go. You might have to move the wheel right and left to adjust before you’re fully under control again.

If your front wheels skid: Take your foot on the gas and shift to neutral without steering immediately. When your wheels move sideways and then you can put your car in drive and accelerate gently.

Check weather conditions– It’s best to know what you’re up against!

If you get stuck: Don’t spin your wheels, you’ll only dig yourself into a hole… literally. Instead, move your wheel from side to side, using a light touch on the gas to ease your car out. You can use a shovel to clear snow from beneath your car and in front of the wheels. Going from personal experience, the plow can and will block you in if you’re parallel parked along North Park. Another solution besides carrying a shovel (because those are so handy) is to wear or keep boots in your car. You’ll be able to kick the snow out from around your car similarly to a shovel. Sand, kitty litter, or gravel will also do the trick if you dump some in front of your wheels, kitty litter is the lightest of the three. Rocking your car (shifting from drive to reverse and back to drive with SLIGHT acceleration) might do it, however it’s recommended to check your owner’s manual as it may damage the transmission of some cars.

Hills– Powering up hills can dig your wheels into snow. Instead try to build up inertia to carry you to the top of the hill. In the same vein, DON’T STOP GOING UP A HILL. It’ll either be impossible to get moving again or you’ll slip back down. Also, be mindful if people in front of you are going very slowly up a hill and give them some extra room if possible. They just might slip backward.

Slow down! It’s important to not only go slowly to avoid skidding on slippery roads, but also to keep three times the usual distance between yourself and the car in front of you. Slippery roads make it much harder to stop. Breaking gently will avoid skidding, and as I believe most of us have anti-lock brakes, applying steady pressure to the brakes is important. It’s normal to feel them pulse.

Ditch Cruise Control– cruise control on icy roads is just a bad idea; it won’t be able to adjust to changing conditions like you can.

Keep at least a half tank of gas– this will help to avoid your gas line freezing

Keep a blanket– you never know what could happen, if you slip into a ditch and your heat stops working, it’d make your day worse if you froze.

Don’t use your brights– just like fog, high beams will reflect off of the snow if it’s thick enough.

Give yourself plenty of time– giving yourself a cushion will make it much easier to go slower and make safer decisions when adjusting to tough road conditions.

Sources: Weather.com, AAA