It’s possible to drive safely in wintry road conditions.
But a higher lever of attention is imperative.
And sometimes the safest decision is to not drive at all.
Winter has kicked into high gear across the US. The Northeast is currently ringing in the New Year as the thermometer plunges and the snowstorms start to arrive.
When it comes to driving, few things are more difficult to deal with than snow, much less when a “wintry mix” of precipitation arrives. Ice, it goes without saying, is treacherous.
It is possible, of course, to drive and to drive safely in the white stuff. You just need to prepare yourself properly for the experience.
Here are 14 basic rules and guidelines to follow:
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1. Know when NOT to even think about driving.
So you’ve driven in the snow before and you’ve got a vehicle that can handle bad conditions. Does that mean you can deal with whatever Mother Nature throws at you?
It does not.
No one should be driving in a blizzard — for two main reasons. First, the simple fact that your car is on the road makes it more difficult for the authorities to clear the streets. If you get stuck, that’s obviously a problem for the snow plows.
Second, if you do get stuck, you’re an immediate distraction from what the emergency services really need to be doing, which is helping people who weren’t stupid enough to take to the roads.
In a genuinely major-league snow storm, you should stay put and leave your vehicle alone, unless there’s an absolute emergency.
What people in the US Northeast — especially in the New York City area, upstate New York, and New England — are facing is a classic example. It’s a mess. Even the best snow drivers are advised to stay away from their cars.
2. Make sure you have a vehicle that CAN handle the snow.
Contrary to popular opinion, it is possible to manage a rear-wheel-drive car in the snow. You don’t need all-wheel-drive or four-wheel-drive. You just need to know what you’re doing.
That said, if you’ve never taken your BMW 3-Series out in snow before, it’s best to not test your non-existent skills. You would be better of with a front-wheel-drive car, with the weight of the engine over the drive wheels.
AWD and 4WD are better — but they’re also no guarantee that you won’t get stuck. Again, how much experience you have is important.
The bottom line is that if you know your car and have dealt with snow before — and you’re not in the middle of a blizzard — you’re OK. If not, it might be best to take your car out for a bit of practice.
3. Two words: SNOW TIRES.
Whether you have a rear-wheel-drive, front-wheel-drive, or AWD or 4WD vehicle, your best hedge against trouble in the snow when driving is snow tires.
You can put all-season tires on your car, but when there’s serious snow on the ground, snow tires are your best friend.
They’re made of different compounds than summer tires, enabling them to maintain traction in the cold. The treads are also designed to deliver better grip and prevent snow and slush from building up on the tires.
Winter tires aren’t a fail-safe; you can still slip and slide and get stuck with them. But they’re designed to deal with snow and in the opinion of many experts, are a good call if you live in a region where snows are frequent and heavy.
See the rest of the story at Business Insider