"Omega Husky" is a freelance writer who writes articles in his spare time and works making automotive reviews, writing about unusual cars, playing videogames... Oh is he a dog behind the screen? probably... why you don`t scratch my ears and find out? ^_^
Every December our roads get filled with snow, Ice and other adverse conditions which make driving a more dangerous task than what already is, cars keep on having accidents despite the many warnings off/online... but the question here is... why? Overconfidence on the car`s capabilities and poor car mainteance/setup paired with inexperienced drivers is one of the main causes of accidents during the snow season.
No matter, if you have the best 4WD the car market has to offer. If the tires the car equips aren`t suitable for winter driving it can have all the driving aids possible but... it will be as good as useless, If you want to avoid getting stuck on the snow during this upcoming snow season here`s 3 simple points you should take into account unless you like waiting to be rescued.
Always have your car properly maintained.
Regardless of the car, one of the things that must be taken into account is that a proper maintenance of the vehicle improves the safety alongside it`s control when facing adverse conditions. However a few basic set of rules should be respected for the snow season if you don`t want to get stuck cursing the moment you decided to go for a short drive to town to buy a pack of cigarettes or bring the kids back from school.
One of the main things you have to check when starting the mainteance is the fluid levels paying special attention to the antifreeze, check the brakes and steering and always carry a spare battery in your trunk (just in case) Even if you aren`t going to drive for more than 10 minutes you have to equip snow tires, Chains or covers. in case of necessity, you can always use sprays for short drive emergencies (Sprays will NEVER replace chains/covers or proper snow tires) so don`t be that one person that uses a LOT of grip spray wasting their money.
And most important... you should check the condition and sweep of the windshield wipers, prepare a "survival" kit in the trunk with: chains, covers, reflective vests, emergency triangles , tool set, hydraulic jack... if possible equip winter tires on your car and of course... ALWAYS carry a thermal blanket if you get stuck on the side of the road alongside a chain to get your vehicle towed out or tow another vehicle out of a ditch.
For more information on tires check this post down below.
learn how to "Read" the road & adapt yourself to it.
One of the biggest mistakes drivers always do is to assume that driving on the snow it`s simply doing the stereotypical Handbrake+countersteer combo around corners like rally drivers do. when doing so it`s not that simple, It is possible to drive like a normal person but... slower than usual, One of the simple basics of snow driving is that the foot brake is forbidden and instead engine braking is preferably, slow throttle & steering inputs are the way to go including releasing the clutch softly to avoid those annoying tire screeches not going anywhere.
If we know the basics of driving smoothly on snow previously mentioned we should have no problem, most of the job will be done as long we follow these but... we also must know how to "read" the road in order to reduce the dangers while navigating it.
If you are going to travel to a mountain area with snow you have to plan the trip in advance to avoid traffic jams and the worst state of the weather on the way, you must always have emergency numbers on hand and it is always advisable to have a geolocation beacon (in the worst case you end up stranded on a unnacessible area without phone signal.) you`ll certainly make it easier for the rescue teams.
I will insist that you should NOT put yourself arrival hours or try to recover time after a traffic jam since accidents will ALWAYS occur as soon you get nervous. It is also important to place the car`s load in a way the weight is balanced and of course correctly secured to the car. (SPECIALLY skis on the roof!) you don`t want to brake and have all of your lugage to end up on your hood or the road right?
The road also can give us hints on it`s current state. If the road "shines" there`s a possibility that there is a thin layer of ice present on the asphalt (also known as black ice) , you should avoid the shady areas or the sides of the road since water tends to freeze and accumulate there, that`s why you also should try to avoid driving fast despite how safe it looks to step on it and no... your car`s potential or drivetrain is useless without proper snow tires.
Increasing the safety distance is also a must in these adverse weather conditions, and anticipating to dangerous situations with enough time to react, and always indicate the situation to the rest of your fellow drivers. and AVOID overtaking. You are NOT Walter Röhrl driving a Yaris! when a surface is slippery is always good to be easy on the controls since driving agressively will only make it worse. If your car starts to veer off the path understeering... say your best prayers.
And most importantly ... if you get stuck and can't get unstuck on your own. You should NEVER leave the car if there`s no shelter nearby. signal your emergency with the proper devices (reflective vest, emergency lights, triangles...) and of course... it never hurts to fill up your tank a little more than usual since that traducts itself to aditional heating time and adittional weight to drive on slippery areas.
And MOST important... Know how to control your car.
More often than you can think when a conmutist loses control of the rear of their car they tend to kick the foot brake hoping the weird sensation of going sideways goes away but it ALWAYS ends up on the car losing control paired with their car kissing the wall or going against other cars paired with a lenghty insurance claim and expensive repair to pay for as shown on the video above which shows us what can happen if we brake in the middle of a drift when there`s a LOT of snow present on the road or the devastating effects of black ice on a bridge.
Knowing that the most conmon drivetrain used for conmon conmuters is front wheel drive it`s safe to asume that many drivers will tend to find themselves oversteering at high speed and the oposite on slow speeds... the most simple technique of bringing a FWD under control is like you would with a RWD car, it is important to don`t turn too much while countersteering since our car can snap in the oposite way causing a irrecoverable mess while preventing with the accelerator that our rear part "overtakes" the front part of the car. this would be my basic rough explanation of a drift, there`s many tutorials on the internet,books,magazines... but nothing beats doing some practice on your own including many drifting techniques shown on the bibble of drift by Keichii Tsuchiya.
If you want to practice such techniques It would be advisable to book a driver training course at your local racetrack, rent a skid pad with a ton of cones to knock off or... just wait for the snow season and look for a empty parking lot in order to practice such maneuvers and end up going against a curb, Have a safe winter driving season!