The Revolution Driving Tuition Blog
10 Useful Tips for Driving in Snow
To most people driving in the snow is a scary and daunting experience, however if your journey is absolutely essential here a few tips to help you manage the conditions and to help keep you safer on the roads.
Only use your car if your journey is unavoidable, try to use alternative methods such as public transport or walking. If you don’t have a choice then follow these simple steps to help you on your way.
Take suitable precautions
Before setting off make sure you have suitable equipment with you for if you get stuck, this should include a shovel, warm clothing, food, drink and a fully charged mobile phone. If you get stuck put on your hazard warning lights to make you more noticeable to other drivers.
Plan your route
Plan your route before you set off, if you are familiar with the area plan your route to avoid side roads and really steep hills, stick to main roads wherever possible. If you do need to use side roads, try to stick to bus routes as they are more likely to have been gritted.
Use a high gear
Try to set off in as high a gear as possible (second or third usually), this will reduce the risk of your wheels spinning and give you more grip to the road surface. Try not to use too much acceleration as this will also cause your wheels to spin.
Increase your distance
When you are driving leave a big gap between you and the car in front, it will take you a lot longer than usual for you to stop. If another car pulls in front of you increase your gap again, do not follow anybody too closely. Also look into junctions and roundabouts early as other people may not be able to stop where they should.
Pay attention to road signs
Remember although you may not be able to see the road markings, the Give Way and Stop signs are still recognisable by their unique shape, even when covered in snow. Give Way signs are the only signs shaped as an upside down triangle, while Stop signs are octagonal.
Look well ahead at all times, if you have to stop, start the process quite far back, don’t leave your braking until the last minute. Start by first coming off the accelerator and letting the car slow itself down, then use your brake very slowly and gently. Any sudden braking will cause the wheels to lock up and the car to skid, usually sideways!
Dealing with hills
When dealing with a downhill, select a low gear before you start the decline, try not to brake too much and don’t put the clutch down until absolutely necessary. If you are going uphill, try not to stop on the hill, it is very difficult to get started again after stopping on an uphill. It is a good idea to wait at the bottom of the hill until it is clear for you to reach the top, then gain momentum and try not to stop.
Controlling a skid
If you skid, come off the accelerator immediatly and steer into the skid (steer the same way as the back of the car is going), if you steer away from the skid you can cause your car to spin.
Some cars are more suitable to driving in snow than others. If you become stuck behind a car that is moving slowly, or is having trouble finding grip, be patient and give the person space.
Most modern cars have aids such as traction control. While these aids can greatly help you control your car in the snow, if you are stuck remember to try turning off the assists as sometimes your own clutch control and judgement may be better for that situation.
Remember, the best way to avoid accidents in the snow is to postpone your journey until the conditions improve. Not only is car control made much more difficult, but road markings are usually made invisible, making junctions especially dangerous. However, if you journey is really necessary, these tips will help create a safer experience.