Winter driving “don’ts”
Growing up we would constantly hear from our parents all the things we couldn’t do. Don’t eat without washing your hands, don’t chew with your mouth open and don’t talk with your mouth full of food. As we become adults it’s apparent there are some drivers who need a list to remind them of what they shouldn’t do while driving. Well, when it comes to winter driving, here’s your list of things you shouldn’t do that many drivers may have done for years.
Growing up we would get advice of adding weight in the trunk to give you added traction over your rear drive wheels. Don’t do that. Adding weight to the rear of the vehicle means there is less weight over the front wheels, which can affect the steering of the vehicle. If the vehicle is also a front wheel drive vehicle, there could be less of the front wheels touching the road as the weight shifts even more while accelerating therefore causing your wheels to spin while starting out from a stop. Keep a balance weight between the front and rear of the vehicle for equal traction on both front and rear wheels.
We also heard how letting some air out of your tires would give you better traction in the snow. Don’t do that. That was the advice many received when we had the old bias plied tires. Under inflated tires means only the outside of the tires really touch the road. A properly inflated tire gives you an even tread path across the face of the tire which will touch the road and give you better traction on any road surface.
I once had a neighbour who would go outside to start his vehicle in the morning, then go back in the house to finish his coffee. Don’t do that. Your vehicle warms up better while you’re in motion. This would be the same as your body. If you stood in one spot jumping up and down you wouldn’t be as warm compared to running up the street and back. Warming the vehicle up in your driveway wastes fuel and damages the ozone.
When I was a kid I heard my dad talk about stopping in winter conditions by pumping the brakes. Don’t do that. Each time you lift off the brake pedal you lengthen your stopping distance. Although it may stop you, it takes a considerable amount of time to do that. Brake early, gradually increasing the brake pressure, until you come to a safe stop. Threshold braking works well if your vehicle doesn’t have ABS.
Every winter I watch how drivers who have gotten their vehicle stuck in the snow hit the gas hard to try to free their vehicle. Don’t do that. Hitting the gas and making the wheels spin only makes ice under the wheels, which would make it more difficult to free the vehicle from that point. A gentle rocking back and forth can get you free and remember, gentle on the gas.
Driving techniques and vehicle technology have changed over the years and what we knew 20 or 30 years ago doesn’t necessarily work today. We need to embrace these changes to allow us all to drive safely in winter weather. This was a list of a few common “don’ts”. Stay tuned for the “do’s”!