Good Wednesday morning, Happy Hump Day, and welcome to a very special Kaufman Law blog post today on how to get through the winter season in your vehicle without being involved in a collision, driving safely, and protecting yourself from injury (along with damage to your vehicle). Posted last September, Edmunds contributor, Mac Demere, discussed several tips and advice on how to safely drive on snow and ice in preparation for the coming winter season.
Obviously, the best way to prevent yourself from involved in a skid, a spinout, getting stuck, or being involved in a collision exacerbated or caused by slippery and icy conditions, is to not be involved in any of the above at all. Of course we know that sometimes, even if you have brand new tires and/or or all-wheel drive, winter weather can send us all into facing one or more of these situations. After we know that we have passed that threshold, the most important task is staying in control of your vehicle.
1. Maximum Brake Efficiency: Before an emergency resulting from slippery conditions such as a skid or potential spin-out, apply maximum force to the brake pedal. On most vehicles, this action engages the anti-lock braking system, which in 2012 models and newer, come standard on every vehicle. "Stomp, stay, and steer". Demere advises to stomp on the pedal as hard as possible and keep the brake pedal down hard as you steer lightly, around any obstacles if they exist, until tires regain their traction.
2. Catch a Skid: While this action is easier said than done, it is possible to correct a skid before it sends you spinning out. For front-tire skids specifically, Demere advises a smooth release of the accelerator and leaving your hands where they are on the steering wheel while allowing the car to slow down naturally. On icy or slick road conditions, turning the steering wheel or using the brake pedal are virtually useless and could potentially make the situation worse, by turning a skid into a spinout. If there are other vehicles in your area when a skid occurs, you will have to be careful to catch the skid while avoiding a collision. Once your vehicle regains traction though, you are in the clear to correct your vehicle if needed. Rear-skids are surprisingly harder and almost impossible to prevent fully; Demere discusses advanced driving courses and pro driving school as part of the solution to learning to avoid or catch rear-skids, but the same method for front-tire skids exists.
3. Ensure Visibility of Your Vehicle: Clear headlights and taillights, the application of a water-shedding material to windows (such as Rain-X), and fresh wiper blades are the essentials of being sure that you can see out of your vehicle and that others can see your vehicle easily. In the event of lost control while driving in the winter elements, your vehicle and others should be able to be seen so that motions to avoid a wreck can be made on the road. Clear visibility will enable safer efforts to regaining control of the sliding vehicle while allowing other vehicles in the vicinity to get out of the way.
4. AWD Independence: All-wheel drive is designed to provide traction to move a vehicle forward, which is immensely helpful in keeping a vehicle moving in deep snow and climbing steep hills. This feature can also prevent fishtailing spin-outs while the vehicle is accelerating. What AWD does not assist with is helping to stop a vehicle that has lost control or turning the vehicle in attempts to acquire control back once it is lost. Importantly, AWD is the not the magic solution to always remaining in control of your vehicle. Turning or braking with a vehicle that has AWD does no better in attempts to come out of a spin-out or skid than vehicles that do not have this feature.
5. Winter Tires: While where you live is a factor in this tip, either having four winter tires or four all-season tires with adequate tread is sufficient for driving in winter weather. If you drive on roads that are almost constantly covered in snow during the winter season, then winter tires are a good investment to avoid potentially unsafe situations. Demere states that these tires will have a "'snowflake on the mountain' symbol on the sidewall" of the tire to communicate that the tire meets industry standards for traction in snowy conditions. On the other hand, if where you live is consistent about sanding roads and keeping them relatively safe to drive on, then all-season tires with plenty of tread-depth is sufficient. Good tread depth is measured between 5-10/32nds. Demere also expresses that maintaining tires on your vehicle with less tread depth than 5/32nds is potentially dangerous.
6. Electronic Stability Control: Relating to ourblog on the top nine safest vehicles, most of those automobiles have a feature called ESC, or electronic stability control, which in SUVs specifically, has vastly decreased roll-over rates, making these types of vehicles much more safe overall. This feature essentially enables the vehicle to take over control to slow down and make slight maneuvers to prevent rollover and fishtailing. Once the automobile regains traction, ESC relinquishes control back to the driver. All vehicles from 2012 forward come with this feature, while one-third of vehicles from 2006 and half of 2008 vehicles forward have it. Demere advises that if purchasing an older or used vehicle, aim to buy a vehicle that comes with this feature; it increases overall safety in addition to helping immensely during slippery or winter weather road conditions.Learn more about this feature here.
Even though we rarely experience winter weather conditions for long here in Atlanta, we hope that these tips and advice will be useful for when or IF these situations present themselves.
Tune in tomorrow for another informative and exciting blog post from Kaufman Law!