Winter driving tips from a Floridian

Digital Now
snow driving

COLORADO SPRINGS — WINTER IS COMING – and who better to help you prepare for this year’s snow battle than FOX21 News digital team’s resident Floridian?

The season’s first snowfall slammed the city of Colorado Springs and surrounding areas on October 10. It’s also the first time I’ve ever driven in snow.

When the first flakes started to fly, I hit the road, heading into work at FOX21 News. I gave myself an hour to get from the north side of the city to the southeast. Usually it takes me 20 minutes.

But what I figured out is:

Slow and Steady Wins the Race

Repeat after me: slow and steady, slow and steady, SLOW AND STEADY.

I really took that one to heart. I hit Powers slower than a snail in peanut butter.

The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration and I agree: it’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.

Basically, drive like your grandma is looking for alligators down Florida’s Alligator Alley.

Courtesy: tenor.com

Metro Accident Repair Center has a few tips to keep you from seeing red when the white stuff starts falling:

See Clearly Now — Make sure your vehicle’s windshield defroster and rear window defogger are both working properly and eliminating the snow, ice and frost before you shift the car into drive.

Live in Slow Motion — Winter driving means slowing down your vehicle and yourself. First, give yourself extra time to travel in wintry conditions so you’re not stressed and in a rush.

I really got lucky on my first drive in snow, hitting every green light going down Powers Blvd, until I got stopped at the light at Powers and Palmer Park.

I immediately hit my brakes, next thing I know I hear and feel “thud thud thud thud” and I was not stopping.

That’s because I wasn’t doing this:

Look Into the Future — Keep an eye far down the road and plan for stop signs, lights, turn signals and curves in the road to give yourself adequate time to brake or steer.

If you’ve been in Colorado for a while, that may all be second nature to you. But the next tip may be more of a surprise!

Keep Half a Tank of Fuel at All Times

Courtesy: giphy.com

In winter you should try to keep your gas tank topped off, or at least half full.

When there is less than half a tank of fuel, condensation is more likely to build up, which can ultimately freeze your gas lines.

If that happens, no fuel will reach the engine and you’re not going anywhere.

Plus, if you always have gas in your tank, you’ll be able to keep your car running, for warmth, if you wind up getting stranded somewhere.

Know your brakes

This one here was a new concept for me, brakes are brakes right?

I slammed on my brakes in order to stop at Powers and Palmer Park – and what happened? I started skidding and swerved into a turning lane before I was able to slow to a stop.

That was wrong.

AAA Exchange says whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

In everyday driving situations, cars with ABS (anti-lock brakes) and traditional braking systems are basically identical, according to TireSafety.

With traditional brakes, which still can be found on pre-2004 model cars, avoiding brake lock up may require the pumping technique, but drivers must lift off the brake if they have to steer to avoid an obstacle.

Tire Safety
Courtesy: giphy.com

DON’T SLAM YOUR BRAKES — slamming on your brakes can immediately put you in a skid.

If you get into trouble, slowly but surely release the accelerator, to regain control.

Remember to keep both hands on the wheel, turning it in the direction you want to go.

I’m going to do all of that next time.

Winter Supply Bag

Courtesy: giphy.com

Having to put a snow bag in my car for the “just in case” scenario wasn’t a totally new concept to me, especially because hurricane preparedness kits are something I am VERY familiar with.

Here’s a quick list of items you should include in your bag:

  • Flashlight
  • Blankets
  • Road flares
  • Radio
  • First-aid kit
  • Definitely a change of warm clothes
  • Extra gloves
  • Burner cell-phone
  • Ice scraper
  • Some high-protein snacks (like bars, jerky or nuts)

For those of you that do end up slamming on your brakes, maybe at Powers and Palmer Park, a change of underwear is a good choice too.

When something goes wrong when driving on a cold snowy winter day, having a bag full of emergency supplies in your trunk can make all the difference.

Oh, and watch out for anyone with a Florida plate. We’re still learning.

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