Winter Driving Tips For New Drivers

Whether you like it or not, winter will be upon us very soon. Preparing to drive in winter weather is important for every driver. If you live in an area that has cold, snowy, and icy conditions, there’s more to preparing your vehicle for the winter season. You must also prepare yourself for driving in these conditions. But let’s start with the vehicle.

Winter Driving Tips

Winter Tires

Confidence while driving in winter conditions begins with the vehicle. Ensuring it can handle the road and weather conditions gives you confidence in your own abilities. This begins with winter tires. It’s recommended to have winter tires on your vehicle during the winter season. If you live in an area that does not get much snow or ice, they are still recommended. Winter tires are for the season, not just the elements. They are made with a softer rubber compound that becomes more flexible to grip the road in any winter condition. This will help you stop, steer, and accelerate more effectively in winter conditions.

Have Winter Accessories

Ensuring the vehicle has all of the winter accessories is helpful too. This would include the basics of an ice scraper, a small shovel, salt/sand mixture, and a blanket in case you get stranded. Although it would be a good idea to have a few additional items, that’s up to you, including extra socks and gloves.

Preparing Yourself

Now that your vehicle is ready for winter driving, let’s get you ready. Mentally preparing yourself is a big part of accepting the challenge of winter driving. As many drivers will admit, driving in snowy or icy conditions doesn’t fall on their list as one of their preferred things to do. They may talk themselves out of the task of driving and get into a negative frame of mind before they get into their vehicle. Having a positive frame of mind will help you to control your vehicle and arrive at your destination safely.

Some people may have heard that there are two types of stress: good stress and bad stress. Good stress involves completing assignments, projects, or deadlines. Once you complete that task, you will often find an emotional reward. That type of stress in your life will either go away or be greatly reduced. Bad stress can involve things you can’t typically control. In the winter especially, weather and road conditions definitely fall in that category. If you can’t control these things, why would you want to stress about them? Instead of stressing about them, get prepared to do a good job while driving in these conditions.

Mentally preparing yourself begins with getting up early enough after newly fallen snow/ice to clear off the vehicle. If it’s snow, remember you will need to clear off the entire vehicle, not just the windows. Any snow on the roof can loosen as the vehicle warms up and slide forward onto your windshield if you have to brake suddenly. That can add to your stress of driving in the winter. That, and poor visibility. Your brake lights need to be clear so the drivers behind you can see when you’re slowing down and your headlights need to be clear to help you see properly at night, so other drivers can see you coming a little easier.

Leave Early to Get to Your Destination

Another tip would be to leave early to get to your destination. This will give you time to relax since it means you won’t be tempted to take any chances with your driving by rushing or making ill-advised lane changes because you know you’ll still get there on time. It helps to keep you focused on the driving task and not become worried about the time. It also allows you to make better driving choices because you are more focused. As you travel in traffic, it’s a good idea to increase your following distance. Many drivers seem to make the mistake of using car lengths to measure the following distance. It’s actually measured in seconds. Increasing your following distance to four seconds can give you additional time to stop your vehicle by braking early and more gradually and feel like you’re still under control.

Layer Yourself with Clothing

Since many people aren’t fans of the cold weather, the thought of sitting in a cold vehicle as it warms up may get them into a negative mood even before they begin to drive. Before going outside, it would be a good idea to layer yourself with clothing. The layered system will help you remain warm when you first go outside, but as you warm up in the vehicle, you can remove one layer at a time. Being too warm may cause you to feel sleepy behind the wheel. As many people may do, wearing a hood while driving may seem like a good idea to help keep your head warm, but it is a definite no-no. It can block your peripheral vision and make checking the blind spots more difficult. Wearing a warm winter hat is a better option.

Drive Smoothly

Being able to operate your vehicle smoothly in winter conditions is a little different than in summer months. When your vehicle is traveling in slippery road conditions, applying gentle acceleration and a more gradual braking technique will allow you to safely move and stop your vehicle. Applying the accelerator quickly may cause your wheels to spin. Applying the brakes late may cause a 4-wheel lock-up. Even vehicles equipped with anti-lock brakes (ABS) may take longer to slow down or stop on snow-covered roads. Performing a smooth move from accelerator to brake and brake to accelerator will improve your confidence so you can handle driving in winter weather and reduce any winter driving stress that you may have.

Winter is Here, Accept It

A big part of successfully driving through winter conditions is accepting it. We know it will happen so we need to relax, take our time, and learn how to safely and properly deal with it. Having greater confidence can mean the stress is reduced or may even disappear. And remember, if the weather is just too severe, it might be a good idea to stay home or take public transit. Let the professionals do the driving. No need to take chances when you don’t have to.