January 14 2010 by Chris McGinnis
It seems like the entire country is covered in ice and snow as I write this. Despite the nasty weather, most road warriors still have to get out there and kick 2010 off to a busy start.
I'm not the go-to guy for this type of advice (I grew up in the South), so I went to the folks who run the Bridgestone Winter Driving School in Steamboat Springs, Colo. as well as AAA for some winter driving tips. Here's what they advised:
- Be physically and mentally prepared for winter driving. Would you be able to dig your car out of a snowdrift? Are you eyes prepared for driving in whiteout conditions? Did you get enough sleep the night before?
- When clearing snow and ice from your car windows, don't forget to remove it from the vehicle roof, too. Once you get going, it could blow off and obscure the view through your rear window. In addition, chunks of snow or ice could fly off your car and hit the one behind you.
- It's a myth that tires get better traction when they're slightly deflated. Only properly inflated tires offer correct handling on ice and snow. It's good idea to check the air pressure when tires are warm and dry since pressure drops one P.S.I. for every ten-degree decrease in air temperature.
- Don't let new traction and stability controls now standard on many new cars give you a false sense of security. These systems can help correct small driving errors, but they can't overcome the laws of physics.
AAA also offers some good advice on its Web site. Some nuggets of note include:
- In very cold temperatures, try to keep your fuel tank as least half full to avoid gas line freeze up.
- Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface.
- Be sure to have a charged cell phone plus blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and medication in your car at all times during the winter months.
- Don't stop if you can avoid it. There's a big difference between the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.