Winter Driving 101: Comprehensive Guide to Driving Safely in Winter

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Extreme weather can test your vehicle and your driving skills, so preparing for winter driving is essential to stay safe on the road. Weather conditions can have adverse effects like high winds, visibility impairment, and temperature extremes that can affect your ability to drive. At the same time, vehicle performance, maneuverability, stability, and traction will be affected. In case of a breakdown during the New Year holiday season or need accident towing, you need to call the best towing and roadside assistance service in town; Flag Towing can be your savior. Learn more about how to drive safely in the winter by following the comprehensive guideline below.

The U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Administration, “road weather management program,” underlines that 24 percent of weather-related crashes occur on icy, slushy, or snowy pavements. More than 1,300 people are annually killed in vehicle crashes during snowfall and sleet. Winter driving can be challenging and need extra care in handling from a driver.

Be Prepared

Before you set out on a journey in winter, prepare for the trip. Pay close attention to the traffic and weather conditions as they can help you make the right decision when the time comes. Upgrade your car to become a winter warrior, improve its hardware, and train your brain to drive properly in winter. The first thing that needs updating is the vehicle tires, installing snow tires or all-weather tires with deeper tread, and cutting through the snow with a firm grip.

Although the auto hardware plays an important role, it’s the way you think and drives on a winter day that can make or break the game. First of all, slow down, not only the speed but how fast you think and move your hands and feet. Snow, ice, and wet roads have low friction, so the tires take more time to grip and change the direction or speed. You should also not come to a halt often to reduce the chances of getting stuck; use brakes and accelerator smoothly and firmly.

During winter driving everything takes longer than normal, particularly turning and stopping. That’s why you need to be vigilant and keep your eyes on further down the road to anticipate any mishap or halt. Your eyes are leading, and your hands will follow along, so resist the urge to use mobile phones and stay focused on the road. Where it might take only 150 feet in summer can take up to 500 or even 1,000 feet in the snow to come to a halt.

Check your Tires, Wipers, and Screen-wash

Tire pressure, on average, can drop two PSI for every 10-degree drop in temperature. So, it’s highly advisable to check your vehicle’s tire pressure before you begin the travel and at every fuel stop if you consider it necessary. The grip of the tire or “coefficient of friction” on a dry road is around one, which drops to a whopping 0.15 on snow, meaning there is virtually no friction. Therefore, it is advised to use snow tires, chains, or snow socks to provide the necessary grip.

Wipers clear the windshield and offer you a clear vision; therefore need to be in good condition during rain or snow. Make sure you switch off auto wiper control before ignition that otherwise can potentially zap the wiper control fuse if the wipers are frozen to the screen.

The screenwash can be essential in chilly winters where water can freeze down and prevent the normal functioning of windscreen wipers. You can use high-quality screen-wash to prevent it from happening and hampering your drive.

Pack for the worst

Weather conditions can be dangerous for the well being of you and the passengers, and you need to be prepared for the worst that can come your way. Be ready for any eventuality on the road. And make sure you are equipped with all the crucial things that can come in handy in an unfavorable condition.

  • A high-visibility vest and warning signs
  • Torch and batteries
  • Jumper cables or battery kit
  • Water and dry food
  • Blanket and warm clothes
  • First aid kit
  • A spade and a piece of carpet that can be used to provide traction to tires
  • Phone charger
  • Breakdown and emergency towing and roadside assistance service provider’s contact number

How-to Drive-in Winter

  1. Use warm and dry footwear
  2. Moderately peddle the car to reduce the chances of slipping. Use low revs and change to higher gear quickly.
  3. Kick-off in second gear as it’ll give the vehicle a steady motion. Few cars have a winter mode that does exactly the same job.
  4.  Maintain a firm speed while keeping a safe distance between your car and the next car. One should maintain approximately ten times the recommended space to offer sufficient stopping distance.
  5. Going uphill, maintain enough distance from the next car so you can go at a consistent speed and won’t have to change gear or slow down on a steep road.
  6. When driving downhill, use a lower gear with ideally no braking unless necessary.
  7. Water bodies, snow, and ice are slippery, so avoid sharp turning; when approaching a bend or turn, you need to brake before turning the steering wheel.
  8. If your car loses its grip and starts to skid or slide, don’t panic and remove your foot from the accelerator. Don’t apply brakes, and make sure your wheels are aligned in the same direction the car is sliding. Remember not to take off your hands from the steering wheel or hard press the brakes.
  9. When snowing or fog, only use dipped headlights. However, when the visibility drops below 100m, use the fog lights.
  10. If the roads are not gritted, be cautious of driving on other cars’ wheel tracks because compressed snow can be more slippery.
  11.  Be gentle while handling when controlling your car. The accelerator, steering, brake, and even gear should be changed gently and smoothly.
  12. Finally, keep the vehicle’s speed low to have more time for steering and to stop.

Pro Tip: Wash your car more often during winter because the salt used to de-ice the roads can cause corrosion over time.

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Call a reliable towing and roadside assistance service

Navigating in the winter requires practice and enduring vehicle. Relying on an all-wheel-drive will not do the trick, and even a two-wheel drive can be used with proper driving techniques and the vehicle’s winter readiness. And in case of a breakdown or accident, only trust a reliable and experienced towing company like Flag Towing. The towing professionals should be a matter expert and certified to rescue drivers stuck in any condition quickly. At Flag Towing, we boast a team of competent automotive technicians and tow truck drivers who know how and when to use which technique to get drivers out of trouble efficiently. We are operating on this New Year Eve or any other holiday at all times, just call and rest assured, we will be there. Visit the Flag Towing website to know more about the service we offer, or call now at 972-567-7299 to request a quick towing and roadside assistance service at your location.

Winter Driving FAQs

How can I protect my car in winter?

  • Regularly check antifreeze levels, brakes, and screen wash
  • Use all-season tires and properly inflate them
  • Don’t ever use cruise control on slippery roads
  • Maintain ten times the standard distance to provide ample stopping time
  • Practice defensive driving, i.e., drive slowly, and when stopping the car, apply firm and steady brakes
  • Keep an emergency kit in your car at all times

What do you do if the car is sliding on ice or water?

Drivers often lose their calm and try to control the vehicle with swift moves, which isn’t what you’d want to do. It’s essential to regain control of the car and to do so, release the gas peddle to reduce the speed naturally. And now steer in the direction of the slide or skid, not in the opposite direction. Don’t apply hard brakes because that won’t help. You need to turn the wheels in the slide’s direction to avert the overcorrection or a car flip.

How to use headlights for winter driving?

You need to keep the headlights on even during the day in winter. This way, you’re making sure that you are visible to other drivers in snow. The fog lights only need to be used during low-visibility or foggy conditions. Especially it is essential to use blinkers as a turning signal in winter conditions.