Serving the State of New Hampshire Since 1908
Woman brushing snow off car

Tips for Safe Driving in Winter

Each winter, New Hampshire residents are subjected to around 68 inches of snow, triple the national average. While many of us rely on plows and brushes to clear the way, cars control very differently on snow and ice. That’s why it’s crucial for all New Hampshire residents to recognize the dangers of snowy weather and follow these tips for safe driving in winter.

Brush Everything (Especially the Roof)

Before getting on the road, make sure you brush off as much of the vehicle as you comfortably can. Many drivers only brush the windshield, giving themselves a window just large enough to see through until the defroster heats up. That reduced visibility significantly increases your chances of a crash, but that’s not the only harm.

If you don’t brush off the hood of your car or your roof, the snow on top could melt and reform into ice. If you’re traveling at high speed, that huge piece of ice on your roof is liable to catch the wind and go flying into traffic behind you. For that reason, you need to take care to brush off as much snow as you can, especially if the temperature went above freezing and then dipped back down.

Your Car (Probably) Doesn’t Need to Warm Up

A lot of people will tell you it isn’t safe to drive until the engine warms up. They’ll advise that you leave your car running in the driveway for a few minutes. That’s a myth and a dangerous one at that. The truth is your engine will heat up faster by driving around. Experts recommend that you let your car warm up for no more than 30 seconds, if at all.

Letting your car idle in the driveway does two things: First, it injects more fuel in your cylinders which causes your engine to wear down faster. Second, it opens you to “warm-up theft” a unique kind of car theft where thieves move in on a car that is running, but unattended.

Only You Can Prevent Drifting

Snow makes it difficult for your car to gain traction and stick to the road. If the wheels lose traction they will slide across the snow, causing you to drift. The best way to avoid drifting is to be mindful of your acceleration and braking.

Accelerate slowly when driving on snow. If you try to speed up too fast, your wheels will spin in place and dig into the slush, making it more difficult to try again.

It’s equally important to exercise proper braking techniques. Never slam your foot on the brake when driving on snow. You may cause all four wheels to lock, which will send you sliding to an uncontrolled stop, no matter how hard you turn the steering wheel.

The proper way to brake depends on your vehicle. In older cars, you should rapidly tap the brakes. This will prevent the wheels from locking and allow you to come to a safe stop. However, tapping the brakes can be dangerous if your car has ABS (anti-lock braking system).

If your car has ABS, the vehicle should automatically pulse the brakes when the car starts skidding. Instead of tapping the brakes then, you should apply constant pressure to the brakes while still being careful not to slam them. If you're not sure whether your car has ABS, put your keys in and turn one click. This should light up the dashboard, allowing you to see whether there's an ABS light. 

Think Quickly to Prevent Spinouts

If you start drifting, you need to think quickly. If your wheels lock at high speeds, you’ll likely start fishtailing across the road. This can spark a moment of panic as you struggle to regain control of the car, which is why many drivers instinctively turn their steering wheel away from the drift. However, this can cause a spinout and is very likely to end in a crash.

To regain control of your car when it’s drifting, you need to turn with the drift. If you’re drifting to the right, you need to ignore your urge to fight the car and instead turn your wheel to the right until you regain control.

If you or someone you love suffered serious injuries in a winter car crash, you need a firm that can offer the personal attention you deserve! If you’d like to schedule a free case consultation with an experienced New Hampshire car accident attorney from Upton & Hatfield, LLP, don’t hesitate to call (603) 716-9777 or send us an email.

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