*Things I've Learned About Winter Driving*
By: John1lt
15 November 2014

Since moving to Montana from Southern California a few years ago, I've had to learn some things about winter driving in REAL SNOW. Here's a list of some of the things I've had to learn:

  1. SLOW DOWN; don't be in a hurry.
  2. In the snow and ice, front-wheel drive vehicles handle better than rear-wheel drive vehicles.
  3. In the snow and ice, 4-wheel drive vehicles handle better than front-wheel drive vehicles.
  4. 4-wheel drive DOES NOT make you an invincible expert driver, immune to skidding and sliding; learned the hard way.
  5. 4-wheel drive, with winter studded tires, DOES NOT make you an invincible expert driver who is immune to skidding and sliding; learned the hard way.
  6. 4-wheel drive with studded winter tires and studded tire chains DOES NOT make you an invincible expert driver who is immune to skidding and sliding. Been told and don't want to test this one; unless you count interaxle lock and axle lockers on both drive axles on a semi truck. (I tried it at slow speed.)
  7. A few bags of sand, or something else with a little weight placed in the back of a pickup truck helps with traction. I tried a couple of different ways suggested by people I know. One said to put the weight over the rear axle and another said to put the weight in the front of the bed near the cab of the pickup. After trying both methods I prefer the extra weight over the axle. I had four 60 pound bags of builder's sand over the axle.
  8. Slow Down, better to arrive late than to not arrive at all.
  9. Know how to put your tire chains on before you really need the tire chains.
  10. Repairing the tire chains you broke when you're cold and freezing out in the snow makes you less likely to abuse the tire chains. Yep, learned that one the hard way.
  11. When you leave for work at 2am with below freezing temperatures and the road looks like it just rained, that's black ice and if you drive too fast you will skid and slide. Been there done that.
  12. If you lose traction while driving, take your foot off the accelerator until you regain traction. Don't brake. Just take your foot off the accelerator. You want the wheels to turn to regain traction.
  13. Keep the cruise control OFF; I haven't done it but I've talked to a couple of people who drove with the cruise control on in conditions ripe for ice on the road. Their descriptions of the ride where enough to convince me.
  14. If you lose traction while braking, take your foot OFF the brake. This one was hard for me to become accustom to until I bumped a few curbs. Fortunately, no cars or pedestrians where between me and the curb. I had been used to years of "if you're not stopping, apply more brake and or steer the vehicle". But without traction you aren't slowing down or steering you're just sliding.
  15. Slow Down early for curves. That's where I lost traction a couple of times and bumped the curb.
  16. Driving in white out conditions is not fun.
  17. Not having to go to the store in poor weather conditions because you already have a supply of what you need is nice.

I am sure that I forgot something and that others know more about winter driving than I do. I just wanted to share something I've learned.


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