The 7 deadly sins of winter driving
The good news: Bad weather means fewer drivers on the road, and they're going slower than usual. The bad news: It's still dangerous.
This post comes from Aaron Crowe at partner site CarInsurance.com.
People drive less, and they drive more slowly when they do get behind the wheel. But the number of property-damage-only crashes soars by 45 percent on snowy days compared with dry.
Hitting a dozen cars as you slide down a hill, brake pedal floored the whole way, may not injure you. But it will probably increase your car insurance rates.
Of course, you shouldn't drive too fast and hammer the brakes. Snow, ice and black ice are a quick lesson in how car physics change in freezing weather.
But much of the idiocy bad weather brings to the roads stems from lack of foresight or ignorance of the basics. We asked some experienced hands about beginners' mistakes. Take heed of these hallmarks of future YouTube stars.
1. They don't clear the windshield completely. Eva Lipson of Truckee, Calif., says she has seen visitors to her ski town remove snow from only a small area of their windshields before taking off driving. Driving with a football helmet on would give them a better view. Clear the entire windshield and side and rear windows, and put de-icer in the windshield washer fluid so you can keep it clean as you drive through mud and snow, she recommends. Many snowpocalypse veterans will throw a blanket or tarp over the windshield to make the clearing easier.
2. They don't brush snow off headlights and taillights. Removing snow from windows helps drivers see out, but forgetting the lights doesn't help other drivers see them, says Marc Pitman, a Maine resident who has lived in the Northeast his entire life. "I really honestly don't think people think below the windshield," says Pitman, who too often can't see turn signals or brake lights from snow on cars. Snow from the roof can also cause a problem if it blows onto the windshield of a car behind you.
3. They don't wait for the defogger to work. You've started your car, cleared the snow off and by the time you get in the car to go, you're soaked and your windows steam up. Take the time to let the defrost work so you can see, recommends Lipson. Turning on the air conditioner will speed the process.
4. They drive on the wrong tires. Tires are the only part of your car touching the road -- in effect, they are your car's shoes. Driving in snow on summer-rated tires is like wearing Crocs to run a marathon. No other feature of your car matters as much -- not even all-wheel-drive. If you don't have snow tires, at least make sure you have all-season tires with decent tread depth. (Retailer Tire Rack says even all-seasons lose their effectiveness once tread depth falls below 6/32".) For people who don't drive in the snow often, chains are cheap and effective and are sometimes required in mountainous areas. But make sure you test-fit them when the weather's nice; you don't want to learn on a remote mountain road.
5. They have all-wheel-drive overconfidence. TV ads promote all-wheel-drive systems and electronic stability control as a worry-free ways to drive in the snow, but the overconfidence they instill can let drivers get too cocky and drive too fast in icy conditions. Winter-driving experts advise drivers to ask their tires to do one task at a time: brake, turn, or accelerate.
6. They punch the gas pedal. Whether stuck in the snow or stopped on ice, hitting the gas pedal hard will only lead to digging a deeper hole in the snow, or fishtailing and possibly crashing on ice, says Marilyn Barnicke Belleghem of Ontario. Spinning the wheels won't get a car unstuck, but rocking it back and forth will, she says. Belleghem says she's had to wave off bystanders who try to push her when she rocks her car.
7. They tailgate snowplows. In many places, following a snowplow too close is a traffic violation. The pavement behind a plow may be clear, but the air is thick with a cloud of obscuring snow. Rear-end collisions are frequent -- and usually the snowplow will come out on top. Amy Jardon of Cedar Falls, Iowa, says she has seen snowplows clearing three lanes -- and three drivers tucked right behind them.
Yes, insurance will probably cover you for anything you do (including hitting curbs or getting stuck). And winter conditions can sometimes be grounds for keeping a designation of fault off your driving record.
But even the right insurance coverage doesn't cover the hassle -- or the potential embarrassment -- of neglecting winter basics. Learn how to handle common winter crises in "I had to abandon my car!"
More from CarInsurance.com:
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Screw it. Just stay home. It doesn't matter what precautions you take. The road is full of idiots that didn't take any, that are just waiting to smash into you.
... Ok, you can't stay home. That's kinda unrealistic. But do your best to avoid driving when there is heavy traffic. You can't control the idiots out there, but minimizing the number that you have to interact with is a good idea.
Rules I go by as truck for myself and my Wife that she follows in her car aswell as I do in Semi and car. For Winter
1. GET OFF THE DAMN PHONE.
2. Pay attention and give double triple space needed to stop.
3. Bring Blankets some Cheese that don't need refergerated some Water and some Hand warmers pockets so you can unfreeze the water if it freezes.
4. Emergency Flares Flare gun and batteries.
IF YOU SEE A SUV THAT HAS FOUR WHEEL DRIVE STAY THE WAY FROM THAT LUNATIC BECAUSE HE WILL BE THE FIRST ONE IN THE DITCH.
I drive in the winter only to go to work or grocery shopping,but generally I avoid driving in winters.
Lights and snow plows. Winter driving in Iowa during s snow and wind event is always a challenge.
The Iowa DOT doesn't skimp on lighting their plows for highway visibility, however during a heavy snow and wind event even their lights can become snow covered and hard to see as they plow the highways.
Once, if I hadn't noticed a change in the blowing snow pattern I would have rear ended a snow plow. My good fortune was that simply letting off on the gas to figure out the new snow pattern was enough to avoid the collision.
It would be nice if people made sure that their lights actually worked. I was behind a lady last year, she had one brake light working on the left side. She kept on hitting and letting off her brakes, it looked like she was going to turn.... Nope... not sure what she was signaling.
Of course if people used their turn signals, and maybe turned their lights on...
Keep a little bit more distance.. Heck better yet just stay home if you do not like driving in the snow...
they drive on snowy/icey roads with cruise control on.
and acoording to a tow vehicle guy I know they have tires that are way too worn to be driving on winter roads... tires tires tires people put new tires on your vehicle BEFORE winter
Lose control of your vehicle, pay the price. We are in the middle of a lawsuit because some teenage puke was doing 60 on road conditions any normal person would have been doing 30, crossed the center line and head-oned my son. Broken bones for my son, and 300K lawsuit for the teenage puke. Have fun trying to get insurance puke-boy.
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You can give your car the care it needs without draining your bank account if you follow this advice.
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