There’s a world of difference between being comfortable with winter driving and being good at it, says Mark Cox, director of Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, CO.
“There are some simple things that every driver should do that they are just not aware of,” says Cox, “things like using all the traction that’s available for one thing at a time.”
In winter conditions, you need all the traction you can get, and entering a curve while braking or accelerating is going to reduce traction, possibly leading to an unrecoverable skid. Cox says the proper technique involves braking before the corner and steering into it without brakes applied.
Here are 5 winter driving errors that Cox says can quickly put drivers in a bad place:
Failing to monitor outside temperatures. A road may look wet, when in fact it’s starting to freeze. The closer the outside temperature gets to freezing (32F), the more slippery it becomes. The most dangerous conditions occur right at freezing.
Overestimating the handling abilities of a four-wheel-drive vehicle. Such vehicles may accelerate better than other vehicles in winter conditions, but may not brake or corner any better.
Failing to identify a skid as quickly as possible and take corrective action. Cox says drivers first must identify whether the front or rear of the vehicle is beginning to slide. If the car is skidding at the front, ease off the accelerator and turn the steering wheel back just a little toward straight to regain traction and control. If the rear end is starting to skid, look to where you would rather be going and turn your steering wheel in that direction. As you turn into the skid, GENTLY accelerate to bring the vehicle back under control.
Making abrupt moves, such as braking, accelerating or steering aggressively. Any of these quick moves could put you in the ditch or worse.
Not making your vehicle visible in winter conditions. It doesn’t have to be dark out for your vehicle to be hard to spot. Keep your headlights on at all times.
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