“Knowing how to handle the road in harsh weather is one of the most important steps in keeping you and your family safe,” says Bill Hume Vice-President of Hankook Tire Canada. Hume notes that simple preparations and preventative measures can enhance safety and reduce stress associated with slippery road conditions.
These four important winter driving tips may help get you through any slippery situation:
1. Keep Your Distance:
Always leave plenty of space between you and the vehicle in front of you. Doing so will give you enough time to brake in a controlled manner and time to react in case of an emergency. Stay vigilant of road conditions, and increase the space if you detect or suspect black ice. A good rule of thumb is that if there are icicles on your windshield wipers or frost on your side view mirrors, there is a good chance that there is black ice on the road.
2. Use Your Brakes:
If your car is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), hit the brakes and let the system work for you: your ABS will pump the brakes at timed intervals without locking your wheels, enabling you to stop safely. It's normal to feel pulsation in the brake pedal, that's the ABS working. A lot of people have a tendency to release the brakes as the ABS kicks in; do not lift your foot until you come to a stop. If your vehicle is not equipped with ABS, pump your brakes to avoid locking which will help you remain in control of the vehicle.
3. Importance of Winter Tires:
Studies have shown that at -14 C all-season tires lose up to 60 per cent of their grip compared to winter tires. Unlike all season tires, winter tires are made with special rubber compounds that stay soft even at very low temperatures. A softer tire will stick to the road better, and give your vehicle more traction for optimal control. Some winter tires like the Hankook Winter I*Pike feature aggressive v-shaped tread patterns which are great on snowy roads. If you plan on doing a lot of driving in the winter months having the right winter tire will make a big difference. For more information on how winter tires function, speak to your local tire dealer.
4. Stay Calm and Control a Skid:
In the event that you do find yourself skidding out, remain calm and do not suddenly brake, accelerate, or jerk the wheel. Instead, let go of the gas and turn the steering wheel into the skid in a slow and controlled manner. While it may seem counterintuitive to aim your car in the direction that it is skidding, it may be the best way to get control back. For example, if your rear wheels slip out to the left; turn the steering wheel smoothly to the left and ease your foot off the gas. Your rear tires will slow their rotation to regain their grip, at which point your car will stop sliding and begin to straighten. You can then bring the wheel back to center, regaining full control.
These four winter driving tips are important. Re-read them and remember what they say. Knowing what to do in a cold weather and snow related mishap and the winter tires you just had put on your vehicle can save you from accidents in the snow and wet, cold weather.