Slip Sliding Away: 7 Tips For Safe Winter Driving

It was a cold windy winter day.

The frozen lake was smooth as glass and the new fallen snow dramatically affected the slickness of the ice. It’s difficult just standing on the ice let alone racing a 600 something horsepower Audi through the track.

Mattias Ekstrom is a two-time DTM (Deutsche Tourenwagen Masters) winner who knows what it means to go fast. Mattias can go faster in snow and ice than most drivers can on pavement.

The good news is that the majority of us are not driving 600 plus horsepower vehicles and need to race off somewhere in bad weather.

Don’t let winter driving freak you out

Driving on snow and ice in winter conditions is tricky to master and can stress out even a seasoned driver, let alone a non-experienced winter driver. If you need to drive in extreme winter conditions, here are 7 tips you can use when old man winter hits your area with snow and icy conditions.

1) Drive only if it’s absolutely necessary. I know you have probably heard that over and over again, but it’s true. If you don’t go out in the bad weather, you can’t get in trouble on the road.

Is your journey really that important and necessary? What harm would come if you were delayed for an hour or so? Chances are for most of us… nothing would happen. Stay home and have an extra cup of coffee or a nice breakfast with your family. That will give the road crews more time to clear the roads.

2) Clean off all the snow and ice from your vehicle. If you don’t have a garage then by all means clear off all the snow and ice before getting on the road. Don’t just clear off a small area on the windshield so you can peek out.

3) Make sure you have a full tank of gas. This way if you get stuck in traffic, or in a snow bank, you can keep your heater going to stay warm. The extra weight can also help by giving you more traction.

4) Slow down and keep your distance. Remember back in your driver’s training class… stopping distances can increase dramatically in icy conditions. It’s a fact that it can take up to ten times as long to stop on an icy road compared to a dry one.

5) Pay attention to your surroundings. Notice how far the next stop light is or the next corner you need to take. Drive carefully and gently using a constant speed. This will give you more time to act if you need to stop suddenly.

Watch out for road crews with the big snowplows and smaller trucks with plows. They’re lots of slow moving snowplows in snowy conditions.

6) Hang up your phone and just focus on your driving. As Forrest Gump would say, “That’s all I have to say about that!”

7) How to deal with skidding. It’s always a good idea to test out your brakes and steering to test the road and see how slippery it is. If you find it slippery then slow down and take your time.

If you feel your car starting to skid, then take your foot of the gas and allow the speed to drop by itself (don’t hit the brakes) that will only make it worse.

If the car starts to spin out on you, steer into the direction of the spin and allow the car to straighten out.

Finding Your Balance…

Yes it is possible to be sure footed and confidant when driving on snow and ice. However, finding traction and grip on snow and ice is an art that takes patience and practice.

Clearly in Mattias Ekstrom’s hands driving and racing on ice and snow all comes together for him because of his planning and years of racing. He has developed his skills along with preparing his vehicle for these conditions.

It’s not easy to drive in winter conditions when the ice and snow comes at you hard. However, by following these tips your winter commute can be made a lot easier and safer.

Happy driving and I hope these little pointers will have you feeling more confident and safe on the winter roads and freeways this winter.