How to Drive in the Snow

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Reprinted from a Jeep Rubicon Yahoo Group Post by B3rick[edit]

Driving in the snow requires smooth operation. Lytle Creek, CA
Know what is under the snow before you break through an iced over pond.

As the self-appointed snow driving authority, I have been meaning to weigh in on the recent snow-driving subject. I know I live in Maryland where we don’t get a lot but trust me, I love snow and have driven in it every chance I had since I got a license in 1970. I also head out to the skiing mountains in the worst - best depending on the viewpoint - weather. Forgive me if I am preaching to the choir here but maybe someone can get something from it. Most of you know this stuff.

As with driving on any surface, smooth operation is recommended. Of course on slippery surfaces this becomes even more important. Newton's laws will always apply and on slippery surfaces you will surely appreciate Newton even more.

Rule number one is to allow extra stopping distance. Rule number two is to make all changes in velocity (starts, stops, turns, acceleration, deceleration) very gently so as to avoid losing traction. Keep the effects of terrain (think steep down hill on a curve with a cliff and no guardrail at the bottom), in mind. Always have an eye on an escape route. If there is no alternate place to steer into to avoid a possible collision then use more caution and following distance.

Four-wheel drive does in fact help you slow down by down shifting but only to a point and only if done gently. If you hit sheer ice then you are at the mercy of Newton and there is not much you can do but learn to anticipate it and avoid it if there is a next time.

If you have to cross slush or ice between partially cleared lanes then do it gently. Hitting such rapidly changing traction surfaces can put you into a spin. If you do go into a spin everyone knows to steer in the opposite direction to correct but they frequently panic and over correct. Gentle corrections are almost always better than the rookie impulse to jerk the wheel.

The same thing applies if you get off the road a little. You can drive on the edge of the ditch for a few yards as you gently get it back on the road if you don't panic. Piles of snow on the roadside can pull you in if your tire contacts them. Grip the wheel hard and gently steer back out.

Having said all that, stay safe out there and when you get the chance get those big meaty tires throwin' snow and have some fun.