Driving in a blizzard is scary even under the best of circumstances—i.e., driving a tank down deserted streets. Usually, however, it’s more like driving a front-wheel drive sedan down a jam-packed freeway. Luckily, a professional is here to offer some helpful tips. According to a snowplow driver, there are a few things to keep in mind the next time you drive in a blizzard.
1. Don’t drive at all if you can help it.
Unless you’re an ambulance driver and you have no other choice, stay home. You’re making everyone else’s life more difficult and more dangerous. The plows work most effectively when they’re alone on the roads, and besides, they’re much better equipped to be there than you and your sedan. Stay in, eat something out of the freezer, and watch bad TV. Please.
2. Winter tires can make a big difference.
They’re not just an added expense—winter tires are specially formulated to better handle ice and snow, and stay inflated in cold temperatures. Unlike regular tires, they are designed to stay pliable in lower temperatures and therefore stick to the road better in slick conditions, which is exactly what you need. If you live in an area with heavy winter snowfalls, consider investing.
3. All-Wheel Drive doesn’t make you invincible
Just because your car has all-wheel drive or even four-wheel drive doesn’t mean you’re immune to black ice or a slushy lane on the freeway. Yes, they are more helpful than having front-wheel drive, but they won’t help you any when it comes to stopping and steering—two hugely important things you need when driving in bad weather.
4. Don’t even think about tailgating.
During the finest of summer months, tailgating is mostly just rude (but still dangerous). During a blizzard however, it can be deadly. Make sure to leave enough following space between you and the cars around you. Your car is going to stop much more slowly than it would otherwise, and slamming on the brakes in icy conditions can cause the car to fishtail. Just hang back a little, okay?
5. Even snowplows are not immune.
Snow removal professionals still have people waiting at home, worrying about them. Blizzards are no joke, and even snowplow drivers have to worry about things like black ice and inexperienced drivers. If snowplow drivers take blizzard conditions seriously, so should you.
6. Be prepared.
If you live in an area that gets socked with snow, chances are you already drive with emergency supplies in your car. If not, you should consider keeping supplies such as warm blankets, an extra hat and gloves, flares, jumper cables, bottled water and non-perishable snacks in your car just in case.
If you get into an accident or get stuck in the snow, stay in your vehicle, run your engine every 10 minutes (making sure the exhaust pipe is free of snow), change positions frequently to keep your blood circulating, and use your car phone charger or dome light only when the engine is running to avoid draining the battery.