While some drivers really look forward to the snow, most others are sick of it. And rightfully so. An ordinary journey to work can become an adventurous trip with an uncertain ending, a broken-down car in the opposite direction doesn’t add to the certainty either, and when you pass the tenth stuck truck and you keep hearing on the radio that the Czech Republic has been paralyzed by snow, one would almost rather go home.
So what are the four driving failures that we unfortunately encounter most often when driving in the snow? And no, it won’t be about tires, I take that as a basic thing.
Drivers can’t safely cross from lane to lane
One would think that everyone would be able to do this basic thing you need when driving on the highway or multi-lane roads. But crossing from lane to lane on a snowy road, when the right lane is rutted, there is a snow embankment in the middle and the left lane is under snow, is a bit more demanding discipline. And at the same time, a little is enough…
In a car with a manual transmission, it is best to pick up enough speed (which does not mean that you will stick, see point no. 4), turn on the blinker, depress the clutch and move into the next lane with the clutch depressed the whole time. Then you align the front wheels, gently release the clutch and drive on the snow. It is a functional, years-tested and safe solution.
In a car with an automatic transmission, you don’t brake or add gas, you let the car drift.
Brakes too much or too little and is afraid of ABS
In the snow, braking becomes a real alchemy, where many factors come into play. It is determined by the tires, the nature of the snow, the ground underneath, the weight of the car, the temperature, the slope of the road, the speed… These are all variables whose influence is highly variable.
The basic rule when driving in snow is to constantly be aware of how the car will (not) brake. If you miss the estimate, practice it. If there is no other car behind you and you are not in the middle of a turn, step on the brake. Try it gently at first, then press down. If the wheels lock up and the ABS intervenes, simply release.
A lot of drivers jump on the brakes in the snow just like they do in the dry, and then wonder if their car rolls forward. It is ideal to brake just before the limit when the ABS switches on. Dot. On the other hand, braking too little is even worse. And there are also drivers who, due to their excessive caution with the brake pedal, simply do not brake in time for a bend or in front of an obstacle. In short, they are afraid to step on the brakes. The consequences need not be described.
A separate discipline is then those stories when the driver experiences the ABS function for the first time in his life and is startled by how the brake pedal starts pounding his foot. Yes, this also happens…
There is only one council. Try somewhere quiet and safe (a polygon, or at least a large and empty parking lot) to see how your car brakes in the snow and how it behaves.
After all, electronics can (not) handle everything
Electronic safety systems in modern cars are very advanced, but certainly not omnipotent. And this is especially true on a snowy road – the adaptive cruise control does not detect obstacles due to the radar under a layer of snow, the lane keeping assistant cannot see the painted lines, and the other systems are bothered by a dirty windshield. At least the electronic stabilization (ESP) is reliable. Or not?
It is correct when you drive in such a way that the stabilization system does not interfere with your steering. When the light starts flashing and the car below you starts to live a life of its own, it’s clear that you’re doing something wrong. It could be a higher cornering speed, excessive steering, failed overtaking, or just bad throttle work. Although the stabilization system can save a lot of things, the laws of physics cannot be bent indefinitely. And at that moment you are just a helpless passenger, not the driver. Stabilization is there to help, not to get you through corners by relying on it endlessly.
They do not maintain a safe distance from the car in front of them
If you think that there is no reason to increase the safe distance from the car in front of you on a snowy road, then we strongly disagree. When you leave more safe space in front of you, you have a better chance of solving a crisis situation that can easily arise – through unfortunate circumstances or perhaps a mistake by the driver in the car in front of you.
On a snowy road, try to brake hard at a specific point, for example near a post, bollard, sign, tree or bush, and you will find out for yourself how much longer the braking distance is. Now imagine that the car in front of you will brake because a vehicle from the side road has entered it, or that there is a tree in the road around the bend.
There is no point in worrying unnecessarily about driving in the snow or driving too slowly, instead stay at home or use the bus or train. But it is just as bad to drive on snow as on dry asphalt. You will get revenge. And most importantly… You can take someone with you.
I consider these four things to be the four most common driving failures when driving in the snow. But in reality there are significantly more of them. Share them with us in the discussion below the article!