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Tips on winter driving

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What you need to know about driving in winter

With Christmas and New Year comes snow. And while that does mean endless joy and playful happiness for children and adults alike, winter driving can be dangerous if you've never driven or snow or ice. Here are some tips on this topic that i have read and personally experienced.

A false sense of security

Having a 4x4 or an SUV doesn't mean you are automatically exempt from any winter road dangers. Many people believe their 4x4's are better in the snow with the all wheel drive system and all, but that's mostly not true. Yes, when it comes to accelerating, it will perform better, but braking is a whole different story. If anything, a big SUV will be even worse at stopping, as having more mass means a slippery road will carry you much further. The lesson here is, no matter what you drive, always obey the road regulations and respect winter, drive with some reserve when the road is snowed or covered in ice.

 Slow it down

Usually the biggest threat to drivers in winter is fresh snow. Because it hasn't had time to set in or get cleaned, it's slippery and can be deceived. As there's no layer underneath it as a basis, the loose top snow moves freely, meaning stopping or turning can be difficult if not impossible. Just a thin layer of snow can increase the stopping distance needed by 4 to 10 times. So just remember, it's better to get there a bit later than not at all. Take it easy and enjoy the scenery and the drive.

Keep your distance

Simply slowing down will not do any good if you don't keep your distance. Keeping a safe distance from the car is front is probably the biggest thing you can do in winter. And it is the second biggest mistake people do. Yes, if you're going slower you'll stop sooner, but not as soon as you think, as you're still driving on snow don't forget. Don't forget to keep your distance to the car in front more than you usually would. It is recommended to have at least three times the distance as you normally would.

Whatever you do, don't panic brake

And so, we've come to the single biggest mistake done by almost everyone, especially people who haven't driven in snow. Braking suddenly. For most people this is an instinct, stomping the brake pedal when they get the feeling that the wheels are spinning or sliding. However by doing that, any contact the wheel may have had with the ground will be eliminated as you'll immediately lock the brakes. ABS systems help in reducing this, however that doesn't mean you should rely solely on that. The best thing you can do in those situations is to release the accelerator pedal, and use engine breaking to slow you down. If you have a tire still rotating, it means the car has a contact with the road and you are still in control of the vehicle.

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