7 Mistakes People Make Driving In Winter
Have you ever driven behind a car or trailer with snow or ice on top of it? Do you see your life flash before your eyes as a layer of frozen snow flies off the roof and toward you? Failing to plow is just one mistake someone can make while driving in the snow or after a blizzard. Unfortunately, such mistakes can have devastating consequences.
Driving in the snow is bad enough. Don’t aggravate the situation by causing car accidents in winter. Help prevent winter car accidents by avoiding these winter driving mistakes.
Winter Driving Mistakes
MISTAKE #1: NOT BEING PREPARED
This Mistake is not specific to winter. You need to be prepared for an emergency every time you drive, no matter the weather, no matter the season. Always have an emergency kit on hand in your car which will be very helpful in the worst case scenario. Some items are especially important to keep in your car during the winter. You’ve seen that person stuck in a roadside snowbank (or maybe you’re that person). Being trapped is horrible, but it’s much easier if you carry an emergency kit. Your winter driving kit should include items like an ice scraper, gloves, and a shovel.
In addition to keeping emergency supplies in your car, always have your gas tank half full and check the weather forecast before you hit the road. If the weather forecast is bad, drive only when necessary.
MISTAKE #2: NOT CLEARING YOUR CAR OF SNOW AND ICE
We know. Removing snow from your car is no fun. It’s cold outside and clearing can take a while, especially after a heavy snowstorm. Using a snow brush to brush 6 inches of snow can feel like a workout. It’s easy to get lazy and say “that’s good enough” after cleaning the windows. But driving with snow or ice on your car is dangerous, not to mention illegal in some provinces.
Give yourself enough time to completely clear the ice from your car. You may have to wake up a few minutes earlier or start the engine early to activate defrost.
MISTAKE #3: DRIVING TOO FAST
The posted speed limit is for driving in ideal, dry conditions. You should slow down when driving in winter weather conditions. The faster you drive, the longer it takes you to stop. Driving slowly gives you more time to react if the vehicle ahead comes to a sudden stop or if you hit black ice.
Unless you are taking someone to the hospital (in which case you should call an ambulance), there is no need to speed up. Relax and accept the fact that it will take you longer to reach your destination. Remember that it is better to drive slow and want to go faster than to drive fast and want to slow down.
MISTAKE #4: DRIVING TOO CLOSE TO SNOWPLOWS
It’s easy to get frustrated driving behind a slow-moving plow truck. But remember, the plow is there to make the road safer. The road ahead of the plow may not be clear. It is better to drive slowly on a clear road than to pass a snow plow only to find there is so much snow on the road that your vehicle cannot handle it. Be patient and stay behind the plow.
MISTAKE #5: TAILGATING
Tailgating is never good. But it’s even worse when the road is slippery. It’s important that you give yourself plenty of stopping time. Increase your tracking distance from two to eight seconds in winter weather conditions. An eight-second gap means your vehicle must pass an object (like a traffic sign) eight seconds after the vehicle ahead of you passes it.
MISTAKE #6: PANICKING WHEN YOUR CAR STARTS TO SKID
The road seems clear, so you drive. But suddenly, you hit a sheet of black ice and start to slide. It’s a scary situation, but panicking will only make it worse. If you start to skid, do not brake, accelerate, or make sudden movements. Release the accelerator and go in the direction you want. If you don’t make another winter driving mistake (like tailgating), you should be fine. Your tires will regain traction.
Tip: Ice forms faster on bridges and overpasses as they lose heat on both sides. Take extra care when driving on these roads.
MISTAKE #7: NOT HAVING THE RIGHT MINDSET
Many people are apprehensive or nervous about driving in the winter. You have a right to be concerned because ice on the road causes thousands of motor vehicle accidents each year. However, stress and overreacting in situations like skidding can have disastrous consequences. If you’re worried about driving in the snow, make sure to educate yourself before heading out on to slippery roads.
On the other hand, you may be overconfident in your winter driving skills, especially if you have a AWD/4X4. Even if your vehicle handles snow well, you still need to exercise caution when driving in snow and ice. Don’t think you are invincible. It just takes one mistake to crash.