WINTER DRIVING RULES
Winter driving poses its own special hazards, which are not
usually present at other times. They include snow, ice, and other slippery
conditions. Here are some rules to follow to stay out of trouble:
- Have the right equipment. Certain vehicles work a lot
better than others under winter conditions. You need the following equipment
to have enough control under winter conditions.
- NEVER go the normal dry road speed. Slick roads hinder
acceleration, braking, and turning.
- Leave early.
- Don't be in a hurry.
- Allow extra time.
- Don't drive unnecessarily. Keep off the road unless
necessary in slick conditions.
- Pack a shovel and some kitty litter or sand. You may
need them if you get stuck.
- Force is needed to start, accelerate, turn, decelerate, and
stop a vehicle. But applying too much force makes the wheels slide
instead of roll. Use the least amount of force necessary to start, turn, and
stop the vehicle.
- DON'T spin the wheels. A spinning wheel melts the snow
and makes ice.
- Leave enough following distance between vehicles.
Slick roads require increased spacing. Use the following spacings:
Start counting seconds when the rear bumper of the car ahead passes a
landmark, and stop counting when your front bumper passes it.
- Dry roads: 2 seconds under 45 mph, 3 seconds over 45 mph
- Wet roads: 3 seconds under 45 mph, 4 seconds over 45 mph
- snow-covered roads: 4 seconds (stay under 45 mph)
- Icy roads, or snow-covered ice: 10 seconds (stay under 20 mph)
Slow down or turn off if the vehicle behind stays too close.
- Use engine braking to help you stop. Downshift well
in advance of the stopping point. Use the "S" or "2"
position, followed by the "1", "L", or "Gr"
- To start an automatic-transmission car moving, select a range
that does not shift by itself. This is where the Ford "2"
position works quite well. If you don't have that, use a "SECOND GEAR
START" or a "D2" position. If you don't have that either,
you must use very carefully use the "1", "L", or
"Gr" position. The idea is to have the slipping occur in the
torque converter in the transmission, rather than at the tires, and to keep
the transmission from shifting suddenly.
- To start a manual-transmission car moving, select a gear
for best control. Use "2" or "1" (whichever
works better for you). But it requires very precise clutch pedal control,
because you have to make the slipping occur in the clutch, rather than at the
tires. With no fluid clutch to slip automatically, the clutch pedal is the
sole source of slip.
- Throttle control is also critical. Adjustments in engine
speed can be used to minimize the amount of force between the wheels and the
road. Use it to your advantage, but make no sudden changes.
- Go slow enough when turning or following a curve.
Make sure you are moving slow enough that your car does not slide instead of
turning. The inertial weight of the car tends to make it go straight
- Watch for sudden changes in pavement conditions. This
is especially likely at bridges and at changes in government jurisdictions
(where one government takes better care of the roads than another).
- Watch for black ice (transparent ice on pavement).
- ALL vehicles have 4-wheel brakes. Four-wheel-drive
vehicles do not have better stopping powers than other cars. Four-wheel-drive
vehicles do have better acceleration powers, but that doesn't mean you should
go faster. Stopping limitations should always be the limiting factor of your
- Plan your route to avoid trouble spots. Avoid blind
corners, steep hills, STOP signs on hills, and places that collect snowdrifts
- Vehicles are unable to move where snow fouls the lowest
point other than the wheels. If snow hits the body, axle, bumper, or
frame, the wheels spin instead of moving the car. Use your shovel to remove the
snow. And don't drive across the spoil from a snowplow.
- If the vehicle won't move in the desired direction, back up
and try again. Often a running start gets the car past the bad spot.
Make sure traffic is clear before trying this. If that doesn't work, sand it,
salt it, go around it, or back up and go another way.
- Avoid crowned roads. Your car may suddenly slide
down the crown and off the road or into parked cars.
- In a line of stopped cars, leave enough room, in case the car
ahead has to back up to clear a slick spot.
- On ice, only ONE car on a steep hill at a time. All
other cars should wait, either at the top of the hill, or well away from the
bottom of the hill. Otherwise, if one car gets out of control, it will cause a
chain-reaction crash involving several vehicles.
- Don't pass stuck cars that are trying to get free.
Be patient for the car to come free or for the driver to stop trying. Otherwise,
the car may suddenly slide into you, or gain traction and leap forward. And
don't cross the road at an intersection in front of a stuck car, for the same
- For the first icy weather of the year, avoid the roads the
inexperienced drivers will probably take. They collectively cause a
large number of crashes on that first day, as they learn to control their
vehicles under these new conditions.
- Use residential streets to bypass high-traffic areas.
This lowers your chance of being hit by out-of-control vehicles.
Use these rules, and your winter driving experience will be a lot less