This post is part 2 of how to safely drive in winter conditions. The following steps will aid you in preventing accidents and keeping you safe and on the road to your destination. Starting with proper braking techniques.
8. When stopping plan well in advance, apply the brakes gently, and slowly add pressure rather than fast sudden braking. Intersections are often extremely icy so do not rely on being able to come to a stop in your normal bare pavement zone. If your car is equipped with anti-lock brakes, the best thing you can do to stop the car quickly is to apply firm constant pressure to the brake pedal. The ABS system will maintain traction, and you will be able to steer the car during braking. If your car doesn’t have anti-lock brakes and the wheels do lock, release the brake and re-apply gently. Usually, repeatedly tapping the brakes has good results. Do not try to steer a car not equipped with ABS if your wheels are locked or close to locking. If there is an obstacle in your path and a collision is imminent, it is best to release the brakes to unlock the front wheels and steer around the obstacle with no gas pedal applied.
9. There is much confusion caused by the ambiguity used when instructions are given regarding skidding and the direction of the skid. A great number of people fail to realize that skidding involves the loss of grip of the rear wheels of the car (with rear wheel drive cars) and occurs when the rear of the car is trying to pass the front. To correct for any skid -let up on the gas and gently turn your wheels in the direction you want to go. It is a very natural desire to turn that way and so there is nothing complicated to have to remember which way to turn. Be careful not to over correct and do not re-apply the gas until you are again headed in the direction you want to go. If you happen to see someone in the ditch facing the opposite way they were traveling – they undoubtedly turned the wrong way or did not let up on the gas.
10. If the car does not seem to turn, or turns too wide, easing off of the throttle lightly might do. If not efficient, feather the brakes and steer just slightly tighter into the corner. Simply panicking and steering sharply into the corner will only reduce control.
11. If the car is hydroplaning: gently ease off of the throttle without lifting off of it completely. If necessary, ease off completely. If this does not help, de-clutch (in a manual transmission) or re-apply the throttle lightly (in an Automatic).
12. Don’t accelerate while turning! When people say “accelerate,” they usually mean speed up. But, remember from high school physics, that there are really three ways to accelerate (change your velocity). All of the three can cause skidding. They are (1) speeding up, (2) slowing down, and (3) changing direction. If you’re doing one of the three, don’t be doing another simultaneously. For example. if you’re turning, don’t speed up, but rather feather the brakes.
- Steer the car smoothly, but work out the ability to turn the wheel quickly, but still smoothly enough to not jerk the car. In sharp corners, a quick turn of the wheel will induce an ideal, although slightly delayed, response. If the car does react with a delay, do not steer even more, but wait for it to respond while staying lightly on the brakes.
13. Many people are understandably terrified of hills in wintry driving conditions. The first thing to remember is to never apply the brakes on a hill if you can avoid it whether going uphill or downhill. Remember that the slower the wheels are moving (and that the engine is revolving), the more torque is applied. When approaching an incline, speed up slightly before reaching the hill to give you the momentum to get up the hill. Never slow down before attempting an incline or while you are on the hill. Declines are perhaps more difficult to deal with. When approaching a decline, slow down before you reach the hill, then coast down the hill as safely as you can. On long steep declines, coast as long as you can, but DO NOT let your car get out of control. Judiciously apply the brake to keep your speed to a manageable level. On cars with manual transmissions and where it is legal, engine braking is invaluable in dealing with declines in winter weather.
14. If the car’s front windshield is overridden with fumes, turning the A/C on air-recirculation, with a front window slightly open, will remove the moist more quickly, unless the inside of the car is very hot and moist, where the A/C is better turned on “Fresh Air”.