You may have heard that weighing your car down with sandbags prevents fishtailing on icy roads, or that filling your tires with extra air gives them better traction in the snow. While these solutions do the trick for drivers with a few winters already under their belts, for new drivers, there is no silver bullet for snow and sleet.
These six “life hacks” do more than just reduce the risks of winter driving: they'll take the squeamish beginner and turn him or her into a skilled motorist that will completely, 100 percent, avoid risk altogether.
Before backing out of your parking space, step out of the vehicle, and make sure that you’re going back inside your house.
This first tip may seem obvious, but it’s perhaps the most important to understand. Because snowy roads are extremely wet and slick, tires with even slightly worn treads struggle to get enough traction to make full stops.
An essential precaution against these hazardous situations is making sure that you’re walking back toward your house before getting out there on the road. What you should be looking for here is the intention to remain indoors for the next 24 hours, while keeping your vehicle in its garage or parking space until the weather clears up.
There are a number of popular methods, but we recommend following these four easy steps:
- If your key is already in the ignition, turn it toward you and pull it out.
- Make sure the vehicle’s engine is off.
- Calmly remove yourself from the driver’s seat of the car.
- Head back into the house.
Lock the door behind you.
Locking up the house once you’re inside may seem a bit over-cautionary, but you don’t want to be one of those drivers who ends up kicking themselves later for not carefully bolting shut any and all exits leading to the outdoors. There’s nothing worse than fishtailing around on the icy streets, crashing head-on into a telephone pole and retrospectively thinking, “God. I knew I should have sealed myself off from the outside world.”
Make some hot chocolate.
Since heavy snowfall can create situations of low visibility and force poor decisions from inexperienced drivers, walking into your kitchen and brewing up a delicious cup of Swiss Miss hot chocolate can reduce the risk of accident and injury.
Adding a cluster of soft, tender marshmallows into this essential cold-weather beverage has also been proven to prevent you from going out there and putting yourself and the motorists around you in danger.
Put on a fun action/adventure movie.
Once your coco is at that perfect temperature, queuing up a light-hearted adventure film such as The Princess Bride or National Treasure can go a long way in helping novice drivers avoid making abrupt turns that send them spiraling into snowbanks and oncoming traffic. In fact, traffic studies show that 99.9% of new drivers who remained in their living rooms watching a put-upon protagonist complete a hijinks packed hero’s journey were less likely to slam on the brakes at a red light and veer into the middle of an intersection.
Snuggle underneath a warm blanket.
One of the most hazardous aspects of driving in winter weather is the possibility of “black ice”—a thin, transparent coding of ice on the road nearly invisible to the naked eye, causing drivers of all experience levels to swerve out of control.
To regain traction and keep your vehicle straight, the best practice is to:
- Plop down on your couch.
- Pick out a cozy blanket, perhaps a homemade afghan.
- Tuck your arms, feet, and any other appendages inside of the blanket as needed to avoid overheating, chilliness, and the various dangers of black ice.
Fall into a gentle snooze.
Finally, drifting off to sleep in the warmth of your house is a great way to ensure that no matter what happens out there on the road, you’ll be prepared to have absolutely no part in it because you’re nestled all adorable-like on your couch, softly snoring and dreaming of what it’s like to be a competent driver in the snow.