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How To Drive In the Snow

Winter - That Moment

Whether you live in Alaska or Florida, you should know the basics for driving in bad weather, especially snow and ice. As we seem to see every year, snow storms can hit just about anywhere with even places like Georgia suddenly becoming covered in the white stuff.

Chances are, if you live where it snows regularly, you have a vehicle that is a good winter driver. Needless to say, not every car is good in the snow. For the most part, any front-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle will inherently do well, but the majority of winter driving is in the driver's skill and preparedness, not the vehicle and its equipment. A big four-wheel drive monster truck will still slide off the road and get stuck in a ditch if the person driving it doesn't know how to handle bad weather.

Here are a few things you should know.

1) Slow Down. Driving too fast is most often the cause of bad weather wrecks. "It's just a little snow" is the worst thing you can convince yourself of. It doesn't take much downfall for the road to become slick or the snow to become slushy. In both cases, roads can become skating rinks before you know it. So slow down.

2) Add Distance. A lot of it. When it's snowing or icy out, double the distance between you and the next car. At minimum. Quadruple is better. You're going to need more space to stop safely, so make sure you have it. This includes at intersections. Give more distance between you and the car in front of you at stop lights so you aren't pushed into the next guy causing a pileup when the inevitable "can't stop fast enough" slider bumpers your car.

3) Snow Tires Won't Save You. Snow tires are great, sure, but they aren't going to suddenly make snowy roads become like clear blacktop. They're merely an aid to help you traverse them a bit easier and to give some peace of mind. Mostly, they improve handling, not stopping distances. So the above rules still apply.

4) Let the ABS Do Its Job. Your vehicle's braking system is designed to keep the car from sliding or hydroplaning. Let it do that. Avoid pumping the brakes in emergencies and let the ABS do its thing.

5) Equipment Won't Save You. Having all the whizbangs to make winter driving easier is no guarantee that it will be. They might aid things, but they won't make winter into summer. Above all, as aid above regarding snow tires, AWD and 4WD don't make you stop any faster. What they do is improve getting started and they will help you hold the road better. Frankly, though, many front-wheel drive cars are better than AWD in slippery conditions. Again, it's mostly about the driver, not the vehicle.

The bottom line is, if you don't learn to be careful and keep safety with a "better safe than sorry" attitude, you're more likely to have problems this winter.