Central Virginia

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Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving Tips

Our fellow members from the MBCA Western Reserve Section published this brief article on Winter Driving Tips. We though you might enjoy it as well.

This originally appeared in the Winter 2009 Crier.

As we are once again enjoying (!) the winter season in Northeast Ohio, a few tips and reminders can help make your travels easier and safer:

  1. Make sure your car is ready for winter. Proper car care is beyond the scope of this article, but it is the foundation of safe winter driving.
  2. Adjust your brain for winter. Be prepared to leave earlier than normal to allow extra time for each trip to adjust for the slower speeds you will be going. This will reduce stress and result in a more comfortable, safer trip. SLOW DOWN!! Once you have slowed to a speed that you think is comfortable and safe, it’s not a bad idea to slow down an additional 5 mph. You should allow as much as 3 times more space for stopping than you would on a dry road.
  3. Be SMOOOOTH with all the controls. It sounds like a cliché, but drive as if you had an egg between your foot and the accelerator (no fair using a hard-boiled egg either). Use small and gentle steering movements. Except in an emergency situation, you should never do anything with any of the controls that you must immediately undo. For example, don’t floor the accelerator only to need to immediately slam on the brakes.
  4. Get your eyes up and LOOK WHERE YOU WANT TO GO. Look as far ahead as possible to anticipate trouble and always expect the worst. If the car does start to skid, turn in the direction you want the car to go using small, slow wheel movements.
  5. Get familiar with the characteristics of your car by practicing on a snowy, empty parking lot. This is also a good time to get the feel of your ABS if you have never experienced the normal pulsing in the brake pedal that occurs when the ABS system is functioning.
  6. Don’t get overconfident in your car’s technology. Modern all-wheel-drive & front-wheel-drive vehicles can give a false sense of security because they accelerate so well. Unfortunately, the additional traction doesn’t help the car to stop which can create a situation where you are driving at a higher speed than you can control under heavy braking or in an emergency situation.
  7. If your car has traction and stability control, leave it on! The only exception is that sometimes in deep snow some additional wheelspin can help get you unstuck so turning it off in these conditions can help. The systems are only as good as the amount of traction that you have available—if you are going too fast on ice, don’t expect the technology to save you!
  8. Last but not least, attend our Gemutlichkeit 2011 defensive driving school on May 22nd! It won’t help you this winter, but it will have your skills sharpened for next year.
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