While Midwesterners might consider many of us rookies when it comes to snow-driving, more than half of Northwesterners (59%) say they're actually comfortable when the flakes fly. Do you think you're a snow-safe driver? Try these questions to test what you know in the snow.
If your rear tires start to slide, should you "steer into the skid?"
Yes, but that term "steering into a skid" is confusing. A simpler way to say it is to steer in the direction you want the front of the car to go. If your rear wheels are skidding to the right, for example, the front of your car will be pointing slightly left. You want to turn your wheel gently to the right to straighten the car. Resist the urge to brake, because that can make the skid worse. Once you've regained control, take your skid as a sign you need to slow down.
Is it better to approach a snowy hill at a steady speed rather than "getting a run at it" so momentum will carry you to the top?
Yes, a steady speed gives you a better chance to crest the hill safely. But better yet is planning a route that avoids hills in snowy conditions whenever possible.
Do stopping distances triple in the snow compared with dry pavement?
Yes. That's especially important to keep in mind when you're approaching intersections.
Should you use daytime running lights in the snow?
Yes. They help other drivers see you.
Should you keep tire pressure the same, regardless of the season?
Yes. While you may have heard that reducing tire pressure improves traction, it's safest to follow manufacturers' recommendations for tire pressure.
Should you stay behind a snow plow?
Yes. That's safer than trying to pass it and you'll have freshly cleared road to drive on. Just remember to give the plow LOTS of space – a full eight car lengths.
Does cold weather weaken my car's battery?
Yes. Frigid temperatures can sap your battery by 30%, so to be on the safe side, consider replacing batteries older than five years.
In snowy or icy conditions, should pedestrians always walk facing traffic?
Yes. That gives you a chance to see a car that's starting to slide and to get out of the way.
If you get stuck, should you stay with the vehicle?
Yes. Unless you can see help from where you are and it's safe to walk there without risk, stay warm inside your car and wait for help. Keep your exhaust pipe clear of ice and snow to avoid carbon monoxide buildup inside the car.
Should you turn off cruise control in freezing weather?
Yes. Its automatic acceleration or downshifting can cause loss of traction.