TAP Into Your Town's News

Prepare and Protect

How to drive in the Snow

Nelson Espeland, III

Tuesday, December 10, 2013 • 11:59am

It’s snowing, rather suddenly and quickly, here in Union County so I decided to nix the column I had planned, and to post some tips on driving strategically in weather like this—inclement, snowy, weather. We have posted tips on our Facebook page, so please like our Facebook page for updates on the weather, driving strategically in certain types of weather and so much more. It’s not just insurance.

The safest way to approach weather like this is to simply stay inside. Don’t drive in it. Unfortunately we have kids and school, exams, dental appointments, and jobs and it isn’t always an option to stay home. So, if you must drive-heed these points that weather.com has lent us on how to approach driving in this weather. If you have a teen who drives, or even an elderly loved one-make sure you pass this tips on to them. Teens and the elderly are the most likely to get in accidents.

Also, if you can wait until the plow truck, or sand/salt trucks, come…wait. It can end up saving you time in the long run. It can also save you so much more. If you must drive in this weather, here are some tips to be as safe as possible driving in the snow:

Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

Brake gently to avoid skidding. “Gently is the operative word here. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.

Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

Keep your lights and windshield clean.

Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills. Look for the 2, 1, or S on your shifter. The number or letter that marks the lower gear depends on your car, on mine it is a 2)

Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy or snowy roads.

Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first (ever notice those signs that read Bridge Freezes Over). Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.

Never attempt to pass snow plows and sanding trucks. I totally understand how waiting is painful, BUT the drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.

Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

What if your back wheels skid out?

Take your foot off the accelerator. Immediately.

Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.

If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.

If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.

If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

What if your front wheels skid out?

Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately.

As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

And then we have the ever-too-familiar “stuck” scenario. If you get stuck in the snow, don’t accelerate. Instead, swish your wheels side to side with your steering wheel. This will push the snow out of your way. After you’ve done this, then you can try to gently touch the gas to ease your way out. If that doesn’t work, find a shovel and shovel the snow around and under your tires. If you are still struggling, you can pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction. If you are stil stuck, you can even try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Most schools in Union County are closed, but we keep reading and seeing so many pictures from friends’ social media pages that are showing people are still going out, and many don’t have a choice. So please, pass this on, and be safe my friends.

Our family has partnered with Allstate for over 80 years to help people with their auto, home, life and business insurance needs. Our quality, service-oriented agency is not only owned and operated by a family, our customers tell us we make them feel like family too. I’m proud to work with a company who’s been serving satisfied customers for over 70 years. Customers count on outstanding financial strength and superior claims service to help protect what they value most. Allstate delivers on their promise. In fact, their outstanding financial strength and superior claims service received an A+ (Superior) rating by A.M. Best. Quality service, strength and satisfaction – that’s something I’m glad to be a part of. - Nelson Espeland III

The opinions expressed herein are the writer's alone, and do not reflect the opinions of TheAlternativePress.com or anyone who works for TheAlternativePress.com. TheAlternativePress.com is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the writer.

TAP into your town! Get Your Town's News In Your Inbox: Click here to sign up.