Becoming a new driver is exciting because you get to control a vehicle and all of its power. There is a sense of freedom attached to taking on the open road, but many responsibilities come. You have to care for yourself and those driving around you and need to consider both the maintenance of your vehicle and the road conditions.
What about winter driving? Everything changes as the cold weather show up, and the snow begins to fall. You need to operate in wet, slushy, icy conditions, which is hard for a new driver to master. How are you going to navigate the winter driving as a newbie?
Here are six tips for how to drive in snow for the first time.
Put Together a Winter Car Kit
There are some important things to assemble before you drive in snow. This is your winter kit and can fit in your trunk easily. While you should always have a safety kit in your car, winter conditions require several additional items. Your winter car kit should include:
- Portable phone charger
- Small snow shovel
- Extra washer fluid
- Emergency first aid kit
- Extra set of wiper blades
- Bottled water
- Emergency snacks
- Extra gloves, toque and socks
- Change of warm clothes
- Hand warmers
This is the bare minimum, so put your winter thinking cap on and add anything else you want. If you hit the ditch or disappear behind a snowbank, you need to survive in the cold until help arrives.
Prepare Your Car Before You Drive
If you need to go somewhere in winter, you can’t just jump in and hit the gas. There are some preparations you need to make to navigate the roads first.
First, get your engine running and the heat and defrost on. Then start cleaning off your car. You need to see, and other divers have to see you. Clear all of your windows off, not just the windshield, because this will give you total visibility. Brush off the headlights, taillights and brake lights as well as reflectors. If there is a large amount of snow on the roof, brush that off too, so it doesn’t slide onto your windshield or fly off the back while driving.
Invest In Snow Tires
Driving in perfect conditions when it is warm and dry out requires summer or all-season tires. Once you get snow sticking to the road, you may need to get a separate set of snow tires to handle the changing conditions.
Snow tires are reserved for winter conditions, and you don’t drive and wear them down over the year. When it’s time to install them, you can do it yourself or have a tire shop do it for you. They can also store your snow tires if you don’t have room. Buying snow tires is worth the investment, especially if you are new to driving in the snow. They will give you maximum grip, traction, and superior handling while dealing with winter road conditions.
Plan Your Route for Winter Weather
Winter driving is where you should make the weatherman your best friend. Make sure to follow all weather and road condition updates, so you know it is safe to go out. While it may be safe to drive in the morning, you could hit a heavy bast of snow by the time you are heading home. This is not what a new driver needs.
Plan your day around the forecast and make sure to take roads that have higher traffic volume, so they are more likely to be cleared and salted. Give yourself extra time and drive for the conditions, not the posted speed limit. It’s better to arrive late and safe.
Be Prepared for the Car to Slide
Nobody wants to lose control of their car, but if you’ve never experienced it, you should know what to do when it happens.
- Don’t panic.
- Never slam on brakes. Apply them gently and feel the road.
- Ease off the gas and let your tires find traction
- Steer in the direction you want to go. Don’t over-correct.
- Once you hit a clear road, you can accelerate again.
As long as you drive cautiously, slipping and sliding should be minimal. You can’t predict what other drivers do, so keep a distance between you and the car ahead.
Don’t Exit Your Vehicle Unless It’s Safe
When you get stuck, it’s usually on the road. Even though your car is immobile, other vehicles may be driving around you. Put your hazards on and call for help. Only get out of the car if it is safe to do so but try to use the door away from traffic. If you need to wait for help, only run your engine when you have to and open a window periodically for fresh air. You don’t want to empty your tank and build exhaust fumes.
Driving in the snow is a challenge for seasoned drivers but can’t be daunting for a newbie. Follow these six tips, and you will be able to graduate from a new winter driver to an experienced snow master.