Winter Driving–Avoiding an Accident
Now that we are into January, we are fortunately seeing less deer strike as rutting season has been over for several weeks now. Another advantage which grows with each passing day is that we get a little more daylight which cuts down on drive-time fender benders. One of the greatest causes for auto accidents this time of year still tends to be weather related. Even with all of the advances in auto manufacturing technology, snow and ice still lead to a ton of collisions each year and many of them are preventable.
Many of us who grew up driving a big block American-made, rear wheel drive metal monster remember that they were good for a lot of things, but driving in slick weather was not on that list. With the advent of traction control, front wheel drive, all-wheel drive and certainly more 4WD vehicles on the roadways than ever, some folks think they can can safely maintain their regular commuting speeds during winter weather events. This is not advisable. First off, if a road is covered in ice, 4 wheel drive and AWD will simply mean that you will have four wheels spinning rather than two. If you do find yourself in a skid and you are actually able to harness some traction, here is what to do:
- First, if you are sliding or fish tailing, it likely means that you are going too fast. However, you want to avoid jamming on the brakes.
- Slowly depress the brakes.
- Turn into the skid. This means turning the wheel gently (so as not to overcorrect) towards the direction in which the rear end is moving. So, if the rear of the vehicle is moving to the right, you turn the wheel to the right.
Like many other dangerous circumstances, it is frankly better to avoid being in such a situation by avoiding it if possible altogether. Don’t drive on icy roads. If you do get caught in a tricky winter weather, you should:
- Wear a seat belt.
- Drive at a slow speed in as high a gear as possible.
- Accelerate and brake very gently.
- Drive particularly slowly on bends where loss of control is more likely.
- Check your grip on the road surface when there is snow or ice by choosing a safe place to brake gently.
There is no silver bullet to avoiding any accident, but we suggest practicing as much patience as possible when it comes to winter weather driving!