Winter is here, learn how to deal with it
By Steve Wallace
Times Colonist, December 16 2016
Every Canadian should know how to drive in winter. Sadly, it is not included in the DNA of many people.
Skids are sometimes a mystery.
Long ago, drivers were taught to turn into the skid.
Most of the vehicles of yesteryear were rearwheel drive.
This teaching technique was meant to get drivers to steer in the same direction as the rear end of the car was skidding.
It was truly a confusing instruction.
The next best instruction for remedying a skid situation was to steer proportionately opposite to the hood movement of the vehicle.
Today, we ask students to look and steer where they want to go, when caught off guard by a skid situation.
Looking where one wants to go is so much more logical, and it works.
It is difficult for most drivers to maintain composure when skidding, particularly when it is a firsttime event.
The credo of “no quick actions” is the best advice when driving, especially in winter.
Practice makes perfect.
Many driving schools teach skid avoidance, few teach the actual skid-school techniques.
Those that teach the full or modified skid program usually do it under controlled circumstances.
Every new driver should have the opportunity to skid on a deserted and secure parking lot whenever the opportunity presents itself.
Get winter tires. All-season tires are a poor choice and do not perform well in snow and ice conditions.
All-weather tires are better than all season tires, but wear out much sooner and do not perform as well as winter tires.
It will generally take as much as three times as far to stop in snow conditions and 10 times as far to do the same on glare ice.
It is so much better to look for a place to go when avoiding a crash in winter conditions.
The most common roadway crash is the rear-end collision. Just because a driver can stop quickly with the best winter tires available does not mean those following will do the same.
Steering to avoid a crash is always the best course of action when the space is available.
Lane choice is a good way to create space around your vehicle. It is better to travel in the right lane of a four-lane road, with two lanes in each direction.
This gives an escape to the road shoulder and the left lane.
If there is a two-lane road with one lane in each direction, it is helpful to follow a professional driver.
Many of these drivers ply the same roads day in and day out. They know the trouble spots and can serve as a guide to the average driver.
Travelling in their tracks will give better traction and reduce the stress of short or long commutes.
It is very important to winterize one’s vehicle. Antifreeze for all the appropriate fluids is a must. The windshield wipers should be changed with each change of season.
A safety kit should be a must for every vehicle.
Wiping the snow from the vehicle while it is warming up is a nobrainer.
It is all too common to see a driver with a snow covered back window and fogged-up side windows.
A snow scraper is a relatively inexpensive item. Many drivers do not clear the snow from the top of the vehicle, only to have it break free at the first dramatic stop.
It is rather comical to see the mini avalanche cover the entire windshield upon the dramatic stop.
Winter is here. Prepare for it.