Snow plow involved in El Paso car wreck

7 Tips to Help You (And Your Car) Deal With Winter Weather

We are Coloradans! We live for the snow! Well… not all of us. Contrary to the popular beliefs of those who reside outside of our state lines, Colorado is not completely covered with snow capped mountains.

Even in this state known for great ski slopes and mountain lodges, not everyone likes to venture out into the snow. So naturally, some of our residents are more practiced than others when it comes to winter weather driving. What are some of the most basic and helpful tips for driving in and avoiding car accidents during heavy snow?

  • Driving at lower speeds (and lower gears) allows for the most traction.
  • If your car starts to slide, lift your foot off of the accelerator.
  • Never abandon your car if you find yourself stuck in the snow. Emergency crews can find a vehicle more easily than they can find a lone person in the snow.
  • Never warm up your vehicle inside of a closed garage! Vehicle emissions are unscented and highly toxic. As soon as you notice you, or a familymember, are falling victim to the fumes, it is too late to correct the situation. On a similar note, should you find yourself stuck with your car because of road conditions, or due to an accident like sliding off the road into a snow bank, be sure your tail pipe remains clear of snow and ice. It is wise to run the engine periodically to warm up the inside of the vehicle while you’re stranded, but if the tail pipe is blocked, you’ll just be pumping in deadly carbon monoxide.
  • Never use your car’s cruise control when driving on snow, ice, or if there’s a possibility of black ice on bridges and overpasses. (Black ice can occur even when the air temperature is a few degrees above 32 degrees Fahrenheit.)
  • Never follow too closely when driving behind another car. Increase your normal following distance (about four seconds) to a full 10 seconds when roads are wet, snowy or icy.
  • Never brake suddenly. Apply gentle pressure to the brake pedal should you need to slow down. Use emergency steering methods to direct your car away from hazards. The stopping distance required on an icy road is double that required on a dry road.

The American Automobile Association has a very thorough brochure available (to non-members, as well) with more information about how to handle your car or truck on slippery roads, avoiding accidents and what to do if you find yourself stranded due to unsafe driving conditions. Click the AAA link to go directly to the brochure.

If you’ve haven’t gotten around to scheduling your vehicle’s winter check-up, visit the blog about Vehicle Preparedness for Front Range Winter Weather. Whether you find the snow to be fun or a nuisance, it’s a lot less stressful when you’re prepared for it.