Here are a few winter driving tips to keep you safe and prepared for any road conditions.
Driving to the mountains for your ski vacation can be exhilarating , but can soon turn daunting if you are not prepared. You leave home and the road conditions are fine, but you’ve been on the road for hours and now it’s starting to get cold and dark. Elevation is rising, you are starting to noticing snow on the road. Your good road conditions are slowly departing as the snow storm rolls in.
DON’T RUSH! We all know the last few hours of a long road trip seem like the longest hours ever, but when roads get snow packed and icy, it’s more crucial that ever to take your time and navigate with caution.
Safety tips for winter driving conditions:
- Check your tires before you leave on your trip. Ensure that the tread is good and the tires are not over filled. A little less air in the tires gives the tires grip on the snow.
- Check windshield wiper fluid and pack extra in the car.
- If you have manual 4 wheel drive, don’t wait too long to switch into 4WD. As soon as you notice snow, be safe and put it into 4WD, better to have it on too early than too late. Road conditions can change drastically within only miles in the mountains. One side of a tunnel can be dry, while the other side has slick conditions and you don’t want to hit an ice patch going fast.
- If you have a light weight car, consider putting sand bags in the back to weight the car down and give you added grip on the road.
- Keep a very safe distance from the car in front of you and take your time.
- Leave the car in low gear to create more traction and keep speeds low.
- Beware of icy patches at common stopping points.
- Keep cruise control off on highways in case of frozen spots on the road.
- Always keep emergency work gloves, hat, flashlight, and salt/sand in the car in case you find yourself stuck.
If you start to slide, take your foot off the accelerator and hold the wheel firmly and slowly pump the brakes (if you have anti-lock brakes, simply apply the brakes, as the system will pump for you). Guide your steering wheel in the direction that you are sliding. If your back tires are sliding left, steer the car to the left and reposition as car moves.
Winter driving can be sketchy, but with the right precautions your time driving in the mountains will be safe and secure. Remember too, that after the plow trucks come through, the “sand” they drop to help with the ice, contains little rocks. Here in the Rocky Mountains it’s best to keep your space from other cars so the little rocks don’t produce a “Colorado windshield” with nicks and cracks.
Take your time driving in the snow. Don’t worry about the cars that may inch up behind you, the most important thing is to avoid abruptly applying the brakes. Keep in mind there are numerous shuttles available to you at your vacation destination. If at any time you feel uncomfortable driving, let the professional do it and have one less thing to concern you on your ski vacation.