With winter upon us – and snow forecasts arriving – we take a look at the most common mistakes drivers make in the snow, and how to avoid them.
Snow is a rare thing in the UK, but there will be definitely a day when you wake up in the morning and find roads covered with a thick snow carpet. You can’t wait for the snowploughs to clear the streets; you need to get to your office in time, and so your daunting snow drive begins.
You are getting calmer with every mile passed, and everything goes great until you apply brakes and see your car disobediently rushing to hug another car in front of you.
Specialists from tirendo.co.uk, the online dealer of tyres and accessories, tell about common driving mistakes that often result in accidents in the first snow.
What’s so dangerous about driving in snow?
When snow makes its first appearance during winter, it brings chaos to the roads. First of all, it makes the roads wet and slippery because the oil slick on the roads becomes even slicker. If combined with the sun, the snow blinds drivers. It also hides ice, especially in the dark.
Mistakes to avoid while driving in snow
- Rushing at your speed limit. Drivers tend to think that snow has nothing on them when they are driving on the motorway. That’s not true! When your vehicle starts to slip and you need to react fast, your high speed doesn’t leave you a second to think. Taking into account the fact that in snow or ice, it takes your car almost tenfold longer to brake, you are recklessly increasing the chance of an accident. So once you see that the temperature drops and the snow starts to fall, tame your speed appetite immediately. Snow doesn’t forgive driving at high speed on any kind of road.
- Not keeping the safety distance. Never tail a car that moves in front of you. The same as high speed, this bad habit shortens your time for a reaction when you suddenly need to slow down. If you want to minimize your chances of crashing into someone’s car, leave the distance of 4 vehicle lengths for every 10mph of your speed.
- Jamming on the brakes. Doing so seems to be a reasonable method of slowing your car down, but it works badly in the snow. When you suddenly slam on the brakes, your tyres lose grip and you lose control over your car. When you notice that your car begins to skid, the best thing you can do is to take your foot off the accelerator and wait until your car slows down on its own. In all other situations when braking is a must, remember to apply the brakes with even pressure (if your car has ABS) or with small frequent pushes (if your car comes without ABS). For cornering, apply the brakes steadily as you start reaching the corner and remove your foot from the brake pedal once in the corner.
- Not preparing your car for winter. It’s probably a bad idea to wait to rush to the tyre shop after the first snow appears. In areas with a high probability of snow during winter, drivers should switch over to snow/winter tyres well before the nasty weather strikes. When the temperature drops below 7 degrees Celsius, the tread of all-season tyres stiffens and loses grip on slippery roads. So if you want to hold the road and be in a full control of your car, opt for winter tyres. If you still decide to stay on your all-season tyres, ensure that their tread depth is at least 3mm. Another mistake drivers usually make is failing to check the car’s battery power, level of antifreeze, softness of wiper blades, and how well defroster/defogging systems work.
- Thinking that a cool 4X4 vehicle will make up for their poor driving skills. Four-wheel vehicles with high-quality tyres are really more confident in snow and ice due to a better traction, but they are not all-mighty when it comes to braking suddenly. So don’t let your SUV’s confidence become yours.