Tips for driving in snowy/icy conditions

Caleb Markley, Writer

While wintertime may bring joy and happiness into some people’s lives, for others it just brings snow, slush and ice; which make Michigan roads slick and dangerous. Below are some helpful tips and tricks for driving in the winter.

1: Upgrade your car with winter tires

The most important component to traction is by far the tires that are on your car. A good winter tire will have plenty of tread (ruts on a tire), sipes (a small jagged line/divot in tread) and stud holes. This will help grip the snow and keep you from spinning the tires. 

2: Install Snow chains on your tires

 Another thing you could do is put snow chains on your car. These are literally link chains that go around your tires and act as grooves that dig into the snow and propel you forward. These are illegal in some states, so you need to be careful where you use them. Currently in Michigan, they are legal only if the road you are driving on has snow on it.

 3: Drive slower

The number one way to stop faster is to drive slower. The slower you drive, the less force is needed to stop the car and less of a chance you will have of locking the tires up upon braking. Driving slower reduces your crash risk on icy roads, allowing more reaction and brake time.

4: Give yourself more time to brake

Increased brake time will create more space in between your car and an object or intersection. This will help prevent you from hitting the car in front of you or creeping too far into the intersection if your car begins to skid on ice.

5: Speed up and slow down carefully

If you step on the gas too much from a stop or up a hill, it can cause the wheels to spin and you to lose control of your car. Also, if you brake too suddenly, it can cause the wheels to lock up and you to lose your steering. Being light on the accelerator and brake pedals will help you retain traction and control of your vehicle.

6: Increase your following distance

You never know what is going on in the car in front of you. If they brake too suddenly, you could end up rear-ending them even on a summer day, let alone if the car hits a patch of ice.

7: Don’t stop or power up hills

If you power up a hill too much the incline of the vehicle and the sudden onset of power can cause the loss of traction on a hill and then your car into a tree. Stopping on hills could cause your car to roll backwards, unable to stop. It is very hard to get your car moving forward again on a hill after a stop. Make sure you get enough speed before you get to the hill to get up it.

8: Stay home if you can

Just stay home if the roads are bad if you can. Wait till the plow trucks and salt trucks come through. It will make the roads a lot safer and is ultimately much less stressful.