There is nothing more terrifying than the thought of driving down an icy road while snow is coming down around you. Extra terror points if said road is down a winding mountain. Even Colorado natives, having spent an entire lifetime driving on icy roads, still get anxious when snow starts coming down in droves.
While you may not consider yourself a particularly anxious driver, no one is a perfect winter weather driver. And if you follow these simple steps, you can improve and (hopefully) not have to face quite as many heart-pounding experiences on the road.
Drive slowly: Please read this title until it is ingrained in your mind and becomes an automatic reflex. Far too many people think that they are invincible in the snow and plow through the road past all the other cars, only to spin out or skid. I know it’s annoying, especially if you’re in a rush, but it’s completely worth it if you think about what’s at stake: your car, your life and the lives and cars of others. This rule applies especially as you’re making turns on a mountain road. Making such sharp turns requires slower speeds in good weather, so make sure to take extra precautions.
Don’t slam on you breaks: When roads are icy, never ever slam on your breaks. Not once, but twice have I slammed on my breaks and ended up spinning out onto the other side of the road, nearly getting hit by oncoming traffic. While it’s often a reflex to slam on your breaks when you need to stop short, you must train yourself to resist this urge because you will not stop and end up making the situation much worse. If you know that a stop is coming up, and even if you think one might be coming up, start slowing down so that you can ease to a halt.
You know what prevents the need to slam on your breaks? Driving slowly. Please see above rule once more.
Make sure that your windshield wipers are adequate: There is one thing that can make driving in the snow on an icy road far, far worse: driving in the snow on an icy road while not being able to see out of your windshield. Especially when visibility is already low, it is crucial to at least have a clear view out of your windshield. Check your wipers before you take off to make sure that they work well, and lift the wipers off of the windshield while you’re parked to prevent them from freezing. If they are frozen over, try lifting them away from the window and allowing them to snap back to knock the ice off.
Driving slowly will not help your windshield wipers, but please review the first rule once more for good measure.
Beware of black ice: Black ice is probably what covers the floor of the deepest ring of the underworld, and definitely what covers the streets of Denver when temperatures are especially cold. This tricky type of ice blends in with the pavement, leading unsuspecting drivers to assume that roads are clear. However, once one tries to stop or quickly switch lanes, he or she begins to slide on the slick ice. The best way to avoid this is to go slow whenever it gets really cold regardless of whether it has been snowing or raining, and especially when coming to a stop.
Again, please review the first rule.
Any time you set out onto icy roads or into winter weather, one must use extra caution that the extra hazardous situation demands. Not only are you at risk when you drive erratically, but you put everyone else on the road at risk as well. Accidents happen, and there are circumstances that we cannot control. But, if you follow these tips and use good sense, you’ll be immensely safer.