How to Drive Better in the Snow
7 Tips for Navigating Slick Roads
By mid-December Billings, Montana usually has seen about 15 inches of snow. Granted, we get some warm days in between so there often isn’t more than an inch or two on the ground at any given time. By the end of the season, come March or April, our normal snowfall is about 45 inches. With all of that white stuff coming down, we see a lot of vehicles coming in for collision repairs (our first tip is the number one issue that causes an accident on snowy and icy roads).
In order to serve you best, and to work our way towards being the best collision repair shop in Billings, we have put together a few useful tips that can help you navigate the treacherous roads, and hopefully avoid having to bring your vehicle in for repairs this winter.
Make Sure Your Tires aren’t Bald
There’s a common factor in almost every accident in the winter: bald tires! Your tires should have at least 2/32 of tread on them (see this blog post to check if you’re good). Even at this depth they’re going to give you a slicker ride than new tires.
Tires can be a big ticket item. But they’re less expensive than auto body repairs!
Low and Slow Baby
George Carlin tells us that there are two types of drivers: those who go faster than you are maniacs, those that go slower than you are idiots. In the snow, you want to be an idiot.
On slick roads, it’s a good idea to reduce your speed by about 30%. Here’s your quick reference so you don’t have to break out the calculator: 25mph becomes 20mph; 35 becomes 25; 45 becomes 30; 55 becomes 40; 65 becomes 50; 75 becomes 55.
Don’t go faster than you feel comfortable, and if you see that others want to go faster, just pull over and let them go around.
Don’t Stop, Can’t Stop, Won’t Stop
No, we’re not talking about stopping the beat (see the music video by Junior Senior below if you don’t get the reference), we’re talking about your vehicle.
Don’t stop if you don’t have to. Slow down and keep rolling up to that light so it can change to green before you come to a full stop. It’s much easier to get going from a slow roll than from a dead stop.
If you can’t stop, steer to avoid collisions. Just be aware of pedestrians; vehicle damage is far easier to repair the human damage.
If you’re on a hill, you won’t stop (unless you absolutely have to). Going up the hill you don’t want to stop at all or you’ll have a hard time getting moving again.
Put on the Brakes
You should be well aware of how your vehicle functions. That includes making sure you know how the brakes work.
Modern brakes, with anti-lock brakes, make it easier. Just press the pedal and hold it down. Don’t pump.
Older brakes you have to pump them so they don’t lock up.
Test how your brakes work in an empty parking lot so you can’t make sure you understand how they work when it’s a more serious time.
Eyes on the Prize
We have a tendency to look at what’s immediately ahead of us. But in reality, it’s safer to drive when we are looking further ahead (read about the 12 second rule). But what happens if your tires break free and you go into a spin?
When you are sliding, you will want to look at where your car is going. Skidding toward that garbage can, and suddenly the can becomes your only focus. Professional drivers tell us that we tend to go where we look; so look down the road! If you’re sliding in one direction, look where you want to go, and just keep everything else in your peripheral. You will be more likely to get out safely this way.
Four Wheel Drive, Not Four Wheel Stop
Four wheel drive, and all wheel drive, are great for helping you get around on our snow covered streets. But too often people can get a little cocky with their four wheel drive. You’ll get going better, and maintain traction better, but when it comes to stopping, you will slide just the same as a two wheel drive vehicle.
The only thing that four wheel drive helps with when it comes to stopping is the fact that those vehicles are a little heavier than their two wheel drive counterparts. Just make sure that you maintain proper distance!
Just Stay Home
Finally, the easiest driving tip of them all.
Don’t do it!
Unless you absolutely must drive, just stay off the roads. It’s safer for you, it’s more comfortable, and fewer vehicles on the road means it is safer for those who have to get out there and brave the weather.
Your boss will understand if you don’t come in on the icy death road days.
Need Repairs? Look to the Best Auto Body Repair Shop
Here at Big Sky Collision Center, our desire is for your safety. But accidents do happen! If you are in a wreck, give us a call at 406-259-6328 and we can get your vehicle repaired to full factory safety standards.