Tips to keep winter driving
SLIPPIN' AND SLIDIN':
A car slides off the road and into a ditch after the
first snow leaves the roads slippery in Bozemon, Mont.
/ Photo courtesy of Chris Wilson
By Jennifer Lund
December 6, 2006 | With snow covering mountains and
valleys, it is once again time for winter driving. This
time of year always leaves me a little uneasy on the
roadways. In my six years as a driver, I have already
slid into a curb twice on slippery roads. The first
time was easy to brush of--I was only 16-years-old and
it was my first year driving. But the second time was
a little more embarrassing.
It was the winter of my sophomore year, and my parents
let me borrow their car so I could drive down after
class to make it in time for the Clay Aiken Christmas
concert. We were all going to go as a family, and the
idea of it was hilarious and something I did not want
to miss. Just one night before the big day, I decided
to drive down the steep hill on 800 North in Logan to
get home. Now this was the first mistak--800 North is
probably not the best road to be taking in icy conditions.
Instantly the car began to slide as I headed down the
hill. Clueless of what to do, I sat in my seat and waited
for the inevitable. BOOM! I hit the curb. Groveling,
I got out of the car to see the damage. Quickly a group
of 10 or so people appeared ready to push my car out.
"You're the ninth car that's done that tonight on this
street!" one of them informed me.
Needless to say, I learned I had very poor winter
driving skills that I needed to improve on. Now, living
in Bozeman, Mont., I realize this even more because
for some strange reason, they don't plow the roads here.
Sure, they'll spend a bazillion dollars on a prime,
expensive Main Street location for the library, but
plowing the roads-- well, that's a selective process.
The Weather Channel Web site has a very helpful list
of winter driving tips from the National Safety Council,
New York State Department of Motor Vehicles, and Washington
State Government Information & Services.
Some very key tips included in their list are: leaving
yourself plenty of room to stop; decreasing speed on
icy roads; braking gently to avoid skidding; using low
gears to keep traction and avoiding or driving very
carefully on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled
If your rear wheels skid, the Web site recommends
taking your foot off the accelerator and steering in
the direction you would like the front wheels to go.
Once you do this, the rear wheels might start sliding
the other way. If this happens, slowly turn your steering
wheel toward that side.
"You might have to steer left and right a few times
to get your vehicle completely under control," according
to the Web site.
In addition, cars that are not equipped with anti-lock
brakes should pump their brakes to gain some control.
Cars that do have anti-lock brakes should apply steady
If your front wheels lose control, the Web site recommends
not steering immediately. Instead, they recommend taking
your foot off the gas and shifting to neutral.
"As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle
and traction will return," the Web site says. "As it
does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put
the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and
Finally, if your car gets stuck in the snow, don't
try to spin your wheels to get out. This will only bury
the wheels deeper. The Web site recommends: turning
the wheels to the sides to push away snow; lightly pushing
on the gas to ease the car out; and using dirt or gravel
to gain traction under the tires.
It is extremely helpful to practice these tips in
a large, empty parking lot before encountering them
on the road. By increasing your knowledge of what to
do in winter driving conditions, you can increase your
confidence as you drive this season. For a full list
of winter driving tips , check out The
Weather Channel Web site.