Monday, December 15, 2008

Winter Driving Tips

Driving on Icy or Snowy Roads

The following tips are from the ICBC 'Safe Driving Tips' webpage:

  • Slow down.
  • Accelerate gently and steer smoothly.
  • Carefully test your braking and steering at a very slow speed.
  • Allow extra space margins.
  • Slow down before curves and corners.
  • Go down icy hills in a low gear.
  • Avoid passing.
  • If your wheels lock, ease off the brakes then re-apply them to maintain steering control.

How to handle a skid

  • You're driving straight and encounter a patch of black ice.
  • The rear of your vehicle skids to the right. Ease off the accelerator and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. (In this case, steer to the right.) Don't brake — this will make the situation worse.
  • Now the rear of your vehicle skids to the left. Overcorrecting in Step 2 likely causes this. Stay off the accelerator and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. (In this case, steer to the left.) Repeat Steps 2 and 3, if necessary, until you regain control.
  • Once you have regained control, proceed with caution.

Hidden dangers at zero degrees

Hidden dangers include:

  • Black ice. Normally, you can't see black ice. However, if the pavement looks shiny and black instead of grey-white, be suspicious.
  • Shaded areas.
  • Bridges and overpasses. Ice tends to form on them before it does elsewhere.
  • Intersections. Car exhaust and packed snow cause intersections to ice up quickly.

Turn off your cruise control

When the road is slippery, turn off your cruise control system. Snow, ice, slush or even rain can cause wheel-spin and loss of control.

The only way to stop this wheel-spin and maintain control is to immediately reduce power. However, an activated cruise control system will continue to apply power, keeping the wheels spinning. By the time you disengage the cruise control, you may have lost control.

When you're stuck in the snow

If you have the misfortune of getting stuck in snow, you must first assess the situation. Get out of your vehicle while being very aware of the traffic around you. Determine if you can get your vehicle unstuck on your own or if you will require assistance. If attempting on your own:

  • Clean snow away from the drive wheels.
  • If possible, enhance the traction to the drive wheels by using traction mats, old carpets, salt, sand or kitty litter spread along in the direction of the drive route you plan to use.
  • Make sure the way is clear and accelerate the vehicle gently. (Do not gun the accelerator causing the tires to spin rapidly).
  • If this doesn't work, you may want to gently rock the vehicle back and forth by shifting from forward to reverse, gradually increasing the distance travelled with each rock.

Note: Check your owner's manual prior to beginning this procedure. If the instructions are different, follow the steps outlined in your manual.


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