Driving in Snow and Ice – Advice, Hints & Tips
The most important aspect of driving on snow and ice is to avoid skidding and losing control of your vehicle, because controlling a skid is much more difficult than avoiding one in the first place! In nearly all cases driver error is the cause of a skid, not the weather conditions! Following the information below may help you avoid that skid!
There are a few basic things all drivers should understand. Firstly vehicles transmit all acceleration, braking and steering forces through the contact area of the tyres, this contact area is about the same size as the sole of your shoe, it is also the only bit gripping the road surface, when this grip is lost you are in a skid!
There are a number of things you can, and should do to give yourself the best possibility of maintaining grip and therefore your ability to steer and brake the vehicle. The list below starts at home. Long before you even get in the car to drive, good planning and anticipation can help to avoid a skid.
If you have to drive in bad weather, make sure both you and your vehicle are prepared for the conditions and carry your winter kit (see the last newsletter) just in case you get stuck. Of course if the conditions are really bad, the best and safest option is to stay at home, but if this cannot be done, then plan your journey to avoid minor roads and hilly routes which are liable to be covered in ice and hard packed snow. Take note of the following advice:
- If possible clear all snow from vehicle before you start driving.
- Leave a lot more time to complete your journey.
- Plan your route to include as many main roads as possible, these are more likely to be gritted.
- Drive defensively, don’t do anything in a hurry, don’t assume others will be able to stop.
- Observation is paramount in wintery conditions.
- As conditions worsen your following distance should increase – on hard packed snow and ice you should be at least 6-8 seconds behind the vehicle in front.
- Try and avoid hills covered in hard packed snow and ice.
- Drive as gently as you can, avoid harsh use of steering and foot controls.
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