Winters can be pretty rough here in New Jersey.
Oh, maybe not as rough as Buffalo or Minnesota, but we get more than our fair share of storms.
Playing in the snow with my kids always makes for some good laughs but driving in the snow is not quite as fun.
But if you follow these 7 tips for driving in the snow you’ll be sure to reach your destination in one piece.
Check Your Tires
Not everyone has the luxury of staying at home in a snowstorm. If you have a job or responsibilities that require you to be there no matter what, you might have to brave the elements even if there is a blizzard outside.
If that’s the case, you definitely need to keep a close eye on your tires. Tires are the most important safety feature you have when driving in snow. After all, they’re the only part of your car that is actually in contact with those slippery roads.
If your tires are bald are worn, now is the time to replace them.
Don’t Get Cocky
Just because you drive an SUV with 4 wheel drive doesn’t mean you’re invincible.
In my experience driving an SUV often gives drivers a false sense of security in the snow. They drive around like they own the road and can do no wrong.
One time I was driving home from work in the snow and taking my time in my Camry when a Ford Explorer when blowing past me like I was standing still. I cursed under my breath as he sent up a stream of snow right on my windshield as he raced past.
A couple miles down the road I saw the same Explorer where it had lost control and popped up on the curb and into a small retaining wall. The driver was just fine but his beautiful SUV was in rough shape.
Four wheel drive won’t help you brake any quicker if you hit an icy intersection or black ice. Don’t get cocky.
Many car accidents can be avoided if everyone just slowed down a little bit. This is especially true in bad weather when you have less time to react and make decisions.
When roads are slippery I always drive in lower gear because it gives me more room for error and it will help me stop more quickly.
Remember, slow and steady gets home safe and sound. Accelerate slowly. Leave plenty of room between you and the car in front of you. Start stopping well before you have to.
And if possible, don’t stop at all. If you’re careful you can sometimes roll up to an intersection when you have a red light and then slowly accelerate when the light turns green. Stopping completely can get you stuck with spinning tires, but if you can avoid stopping you’ll have inertia on your side and it will be easier to get going again.
Driving in snow can be tricky business and you don’t need any more distractions making things even more difficult for you.
That means you need to turn down the Lady Gaga, put down the Egg McMuffin and stop sending text messages so you can focus on the road.
Driving while distracted is a bad idea under the best circumstances. In the snow it is downright deadly.
Keep Your Tank Full
A few years ago I got caught in a snowstorm and had to drive home from work under horrible conditions. Winds were gusting and visibility was practically nil. Snow was accumulating quickly and the roads were a disaster.
My normal drive home took about 25 minutes but under those conditions it took me 3 hours and 15 minutes.
Fortunately I had a full tank of gas when I left the office. If I had been running low and planning to stop on the way home I would have been screwed.
People have run out of gas while driving in snow before, and you could find yourself stranded on the side of the road for hours without heat.
Driving in snow adds an element of unpredictability to your trip and it’s best to be prepared for something to go wrong.
Make sure your cell phone is charged. Keep some jumper cables in your trunk. Toss in a small shovel and ice scraper. And don’t forget a bag of sand to help get some traction if your tires are spinning. Cat litter or even a couple boxes of dried pasta will work too.
A blanket and some glow sticks are also a god idea to keep handy.
And don’t forget some snacks. A few granola bars will keep you going if you’re stranded in your car and waiting for help.
Every time it snows, the weathermen on TV say the same thing…”Avoid the roads unless you absolutely have to be on them.”
Good advice, and I wish more people listened to them.
I’m fortunate that I can work from home when the weather is bad, but not everyone can do so. Still, it amazes me how many people hit the roads when they don’t really have to.
Do you really need to hit the bar or the mall in a snowstorm? Maybe staying home would be wiser.
Seriously, the safest way to drive in a snowstorm is to not leave home to begin with!
Do you have any other tips for driving in snow that you can share?