Colorado is consistently one of the snowiest states in America, seeing an average of around 50-70 inches of snow every year. This makes basic winter driving safety essential for all drivers in the state so they may learn how to safely navigate the roads in less-than-desirable conditions. Driving in the snow can be a challenge for experienced drivers, but especially for those driving in snow for the first time. The conditions require a lot more focus and caution, and it can be a pretty stressful experience, not to mention having to deal with other drivers on the road and the unpredictability of their decision-making and actions in adverse driving conditions. While confidence will come with experience, we wanted to offer some tips for driving in the snow to help you feel more comfortable driving in dreary, foggy, cold, wet, and snowy winter weather.
Give Your Vehicle Time to Warm Up
The first of our tips for driving in the snow doesn’t have to do with driving per se but preparing your car for it to be driven. Your vehicle will get very cold sitting outside or in your garage, so give it a couple of minutes to warm up before you start driving. This helps the engine and all other parts of your vehicle perform at their best, giving you confidence in your vehicle. If you’re driving in snow for the first time, this also gives you time to prepare yourself and go over these other tips in your head. Make sure your vehicle is roadworthy before entering the road because sometimes the extreme cold can affect the motor and other mechanical items on your car, like your starter, heating, and overheating systems.
Clear Ice and Snow Off Your Vehicle
This is another one of the tips for driving in the snow that deals with preparing your car so it’s safe to drive. In addition to clearing snow off of your front windshield for an interrupted view, you should also clean it off all other windows and the top of your vehicle. We recommend getting a durable ice scraper and snow brush so you can always clear snow and ice off easily to maintain your visibility through the vehicle on all sides of the car.
Keep Extra Distance from Other Vehicles
You should always keep at least 2-3 car length distances between you and vehicles in front of you, but in the winter, this distance should be increased based on conditions. For those driving in snow for the first time, you may want to stay even further away. This is one of the more basic tips for driving in the snow, but still very important. Snowy and icy roads can make it harder to stop, and the snow and decreased visibility can make it harder to see in front of you.
Steer into a Skid if You Start to Slide
Many of these tips for driving in the snow are to help you avoid skidding or losing control of your vehicle, but you should be prepared to know what to do if it were to happen. While your initial reaction may be to turn in the opposite direction of the way you are skidding or slam on the breaks, don’t. Instead, stay calm, take your foot off the accelerator, and turn your wheel in the same direction that the back of your car is going. Once your vehicle corrects its path, turn the wheel in the opposite direction to get back on the way you were heading. Over-correction is dangerous, so be careful out there and don’t lose further control of your vehicle while trying to gain back control.
Get the Right Gear
To enhance your vehicle’s grip on the road and reduce the risk of skidding, you’ll want to install snow tires or snow chains. They are essential winter driving safety items, no matter if you are driving in snow for the first time or you’ve grown up in Colorado and have been driving in winter conditions your whole life.
When it comes to winter driving safety, you can never really be too safe. Follow these tips for driving in the snow to reduce the risk of an accident and give you more confidence in your vehicle and your driving ability this winter!