Snow is great when you are child hoping to stay home from school. It's not so great when you are trying to get to and from work or just running up to the grocery store. We have to be extra cautious in snowy and icy conditions to protect ourselves and others. Below are some tips to stay safe on the roads during this winter season.
The best tip is, of course, that it's sometimes best to stay home until snow plows and sanding crews have done their work. If you crash on a snowy or icy road, you'll certainly be late -- or worse. But since you can't always call in to work claiming a "snow day," it's better to learn how to correctly deal with driving in the snow.
Make sure you have appropriate tires. To have adequate snow traction, a tire requires at least 6/32-inch deep tread. Ultrahigh-performance "summer" tires have little or no grip in snow. Even "all-season" tires don't necessarily have great snow traction: Some do, some don't. If you live where the roads are regularly covered with snow, you might want to consider buying snow tires. They have a snowflake symbol on the sidewall, meaning they meet a tire-industry standard for snow traction.
Make sure you can see. Replace windshield wiper blades and apply a water-shedding material such as Rain-X to the outside of all windows, including the mirrors. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid.
Run the air-conditioner. In order to remove condensation and frost from the interior of windows, engage your air-conditioner and select the fresh air option: It's fine to set the temperature on "hot." Many cars automatically do this when you choose the defrost setting.
Check your lights. Use your headlights so that others will see you and not pull out in front of you. Make sure your headlights and taillights are clear of snow and ice.
Give yourself a brake. Learn how to get maximum efficiency from your brakes before an emergency. It's easy to properly use antilock brakes: Stomp, stay and steer. Stomp on the pedal as if you were trying to snap it off. Stay hard on the pedal. Steer around the obstacle. (Remember: A little bit of steering goes a very long way in an emergency.) If you drive on icy roads or roads that are covered with snow, modify your ABS technique: After you "Stomp" and the ABS begins cycling -- you will feel pulses in the pedal or hear the system working -- ease up slightly on the pedal until the pulsing happens only once a second.
Watch carefully for black ice. If the road looks slick, it probably is. This is especially true with one of winter's worst hazards, black ice. This is nearly transparent ice that often looks like a harmless puddle or is overlooked entirely. Test the traction with a smooth brake application or slight turn of the wheel.
Remember the obvious tough spots. You must remember where icy roads tend to occur. Bridges and intersections are common places, as is any place where water runs across the road.
Too much steering is bad. If a slick section in a turn causes your front tires to lose grip, the common reaction is to continue turning the steering wheel. This is the absolute wrong thing to do. It won't improve the situation and may make things worse. If the icy conditions end and the front tires regain grip, your car will dart whichever way the wheels are pointed. That may be into oncoming traffic or a telephone pole. Something very similar happens if you steer too much while braking with ABS. Sadly, there are situations where nothing will prevent a crash, but turning the steering too much never helps.
Avoid rear-tire slides. First, choose a car with electronic stability control. Fortunately, ESC will be mandatory on all 2012 models. Next, make sure your rear tires have at least as much tread as your front tires. Finally, if you buy winter tires, get four.
Technology offers no miracles. All-wheel drive and electronic stability control can get you into trouble by offering a false sense of security. AWD can only help a vehicle accelerate or keep moving: It can't help you go around a snow-covered turn, much less stop at an icy intersection. ESC can prevent a spinout, but it can't clear ice from the roads or give your tires more traction. Don't let these lull you into overestimating the available traction.
Please be cautious during these winter months full of dangerous driving. Unfortunately, accidents do happen. If you are injured on the roadways due to the negligence of another, please do not wait: Call Jones Ward attorney David G. Bryant, who will act quickly to ensure your legal rights are protected. You can also e-mail David at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Have a safe and Happy Holiday season!