thoughts on snow driving

thoughts on snow driving

Post by Kevin Geragh » Sat, 03 Feb 1996 04:00:00

Anybody have anything to add to (or subtract from) the following list
of snow driving principles?

General rules:

be smooth.  Do nothing in a hurry.  Don't overreact.  Dont use high
boost.  Dont brake hard. Don't turn hard. If you're skidding, turn
towards the skid(this is actually pretty intuitive), and stay off the
brake!  Don't stop on a steep hill.  Remember that your frictional
contact with the surface is relatively weak, and try not to stress
that contact.

You should constantly be assessing the driving surface and asking how
much grip you have. Hit the brakes hard at 5 or 10 mph(in a safe spot)
and observe the results.  Snow is enormously variable. Cold, fresh,
new snow (powder, that is to say) has sharp, hard crystals and is
quite unslippery.  Warmer, wetter snow is slipperier, and ice is much
slipperier still. If you are driving the Al-can highway at 25 below,
you probably have a pretty strong contact with the road; if you are on
a heavily travelled road to a ski area near the rain/snow boundary (in
other words, if you are a west coast skiier) your road grip may be
very tenuous. In general, snow is your friend; ice is your enemy.
Pure snow is a predictable, friendly surface; ice tends to be patchy,
intermittent, treacherous and hard to see.  If you are on a patch of
ice, don't even think about turning, accelerating, or braking.  If you
suspect ice, put on chains(even in a 4wd with good snow tires). Chains
are the only way to get any grip, at all, on black ice.

When in doubt, or on a variable surface, be conservative. 65mph is
probably too fast for any conceivable snow/ice-covered surface. 20 mph
is too fast for some surfaces; some surfaces should not be driven at all.

Bring a shovel. Bring chains, if you have them.

For manuals:

Use a higher gear than you normally would; lug the engine
a little bit if you have to.  You might consider starting in second if
you have to.  This will reduce the wheels' torque.

Some old standbys:

To get max traction uphill in a front-wheel drive car, back up the hill.
If you're stuck, rock the car.  Spinning the wheels does nothing but
dig you in deeper.

Kevin Geraghty