During the winter months driving becomes dangerous for many reasons, such as snow, black ice, and impaired vision. All these winter conditions greatly reduce a driver’s capability to make a smooth and safe stop, and make a turn around a snow or ice-covered corner, but what are some tips to drive safe during these conditions? What are the best ways to drive during winter?
Kayhi maritime teacher Rick Collins has some knowledge for winter drivers.
“Make sure you watch the road conditions. If you see sparkly ice in your headlights, you know reflecting from your headlights at night okay, that would give you an indication that you have icy road conditions,” said Collins. “You have to think about the temperature – were the roads wet today? And is the temperature now down below freezing? And if that’s the case than you really need to pay attention for black ice and things like that.”
Some people say black ice is the most dangerous part about driving in the winter; others say it’s the wet snow that don’t allow your tires to grip the ground causing you to slide when you try to apply pressure to your breaks. What most people don’t know is the right time to use your brakes and how much pressure to use.
“You want to apply reasonable amount of brake pressure before you turn, because that will shift the momentum of your car forward, and put a little bit more weight on your front tires. When you make a corner your front tires will be a little bit more weighted and less likely to push through the corner,” Said Collins. “I think it’s really important to get out to a really open parking lot somewhere, and practice a little bit. Like learn to correct slides, but you know don’t drive reckless to where you are going to run into something but, get used to cars sliding a little bit and get used to how they handle in the snow.”
Another important factor during winter driving is the type of vehicle that you use, with the right type of tires. A two-wheel drive vehicle is probably not the best choice if you were going to drive with snow or ice on the road. Kayhi junior Brayden Linne knows a little bit about what type of vehicle to drive during the winter.
“All-wheel drive or four-wheel drive and four wheel drive vehicles are a must in Ketchikan. We don’t get a lot of snow but when we do, we have hills and we have congested traffic, and you know those are a bad combination,” said Linne. “Having good tires and make sure you have tires that are suitable for winter driving conditions, but if your running out with slick worn out tires your maneuverability and braking is going to be greatly reduced. Basically go slow so you don’t rear end somebody when you try to stop. Pump the brakes so you don’t slide”.
What’s the most dangerous part about winter driving?
“Black ice. You don’t know it’s there and it’s slick,” said Linne. “Drivers are unaware driving at a high rate of speed on poorly lit highways and not realizing that they hit black ice, so I think that’s a really dangerous combination,”
Many people have crashed and have gotten in close calls because of winter driving conditions. Rick tells his close call.
“One time driving down the hill from Smithers, we had cold weather up on top of the mountain where we were skiing. Partway down the mountain, a layer of snow and the ice melted and made a lot of water on the road. The temperature dropped and the ice kind of flooded over the rocks. It became a gravel road so there weren’t any rocks to grip from, and we ended up with about a half inch to an inch of snow to about an inch of snow covering the ice.” said Collins. “We were then driving in an inch of fresh snow with gravel underneath but we found out later that we were driving on an inch of snow with ice underneath. There is this one corner on that hill that is sloped the wrong direction and we barely caught the edge of the snowbank and we were able to get out. Later that day there were about fifteen cars that got wrecked.”