If you live where it snows in the winter, then you know driving in the snow can be tricky. You also know you need to adjust how you drive in the different types of snow.

Photo credit: Chiot's Run / Foter / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: Chiot’s Run / Foter / CC BY-NC

We prepare our children for everything we can think of in life and when they hit the road we hold our breath waiting for them to get home safe and sound. Many parents wouldn’t think of grabbing their teen to go out driving to slip and slide. That’s just crazy! Or is it? How many times have you walked out of work at the end of the day to find six inches of snow already on the ground? You’re an experienced driver and it takes you by surprise, imagine how surprised your teen will be.

When it snows for the first time after your teen gets their license, grab them and start the training. I’m not saying to take them out during rush hour or on a busy road but find a parking lot or a road that isn’t heavily traveled. Large parking lots are the best place to teach how to control a slide. Of course you’ll need to make the car slide a bit so while they’re driving, yell to, “STOP!”. Let them feel the car slide and then get into training teaching them how to handle sliding, using the brakes, and most important, safety.

The best option is always not to drive in the snow and to wait until the plows have cleared and sanded the roads but preparation is key. Many states have schools for teaching winter driving techniques which are worth the money but for those of us who don’t have that option here are some Tips For Driving In The Snow:

  • Make sure you have the right equipment in the car (shovel, snow brush, ice scraper, etc)
  • Turn on your lights so others can see you
  • Drive slower and leave three times the room needed to stop
  • Brake gently so you don’t skid
  • Never use cruise control
  • Be careful of ice on bridges and overpasses. “Black Ice” is transparent and may look like a wet spot but can put you in a spin.
  • Four wheel drive doesn’t mean you can drive on ice or in snow at the regular speed.
  • Don’t pass snow plows. Staying behind them can make a clear road for you to drive on.
  • Brake gently and if your brakes lock up, ease off the brake
Photo credit: OregonDOT / Foter / CC BY

Photo credit: OregonDOT / Foter / CC BY

Sliding and Skidding:
Go against your natural instincts. You need to turn into the skid and to accelerate at the same time. Jerry Pearl who teaches winter driving in Colorado says;

“People don’t think about accelerating to control the car.” However, many oversteer skids can be controlled and a disaster averted simply by releasing the brake and gently accelerating. This transfers the weight from the front to the rear wheels, which allows you to steer into the direction of the skid, gain control of the vehicle and continue safely on your way. If you drive a rear-wheel-drive vehicle, cautions Pearl, be careful not to over-accelerate or the tires may spin and you will oversteer and slide out of the turn. In an understeer skid (when your car refuses to turn and is sliding), once again it’s important not to react instinctively by over-correcting the steering wheel, by braking or by doing both simultaneously. Understeering is usually caused by entering a corner too quickly and then turning. To turn the vehicle effectively, your wheels need grip. If you react to an understeer skid by turning more, you’re only asking for more grip, which is unavailable. The same is true if you brake. Instead, Pearl advises, in an understeer skid, carefully adjust your steering wheel until you regain some grip at the front wheels. ~ Edmunds.com

Although we’re talking about teaching our teens these important safety tips, they can be used by anyone. We should all know how to drive in winter weather and how to be safe

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January 9, 2013

Teaching Your Teen To Drive In The Snow, Tips For Winter Driving

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  1. Linda Kinsman

    January 9th, 2013 at 4:27 pm

    These are excellent tips! I don’t have a teen driving yet, but my niece just got her drivers license and lives in an area that gets snow, so I am going to share this with her mom. Thanks Rachel.

  2. DGSA Wills

    January 21st, 2013 at 3:19 am

    Hi ! The tips you’ve motioned are really useful. I would like to add one more about the windscreen. You should top up windscreen washer fluid and treat with a suitable additive to reduce the chance of freezing. Don’t use ordinary engine antifreeze, as it will damage paintwork.