NEW YORK – With the snow finally hitting the NYC area, it’s time to prep for driving in challenging winter weather conditions. To help keep you in control of the road this week (and all winter long), Lead Instructor of the Land Rover Experience North America, Greg Nikolas offers his top tips for safe driving in less-than-ideal winter weather conditions.
For practicing the below techniques, consumers can check out the Land Rover Driving Experience Center. With 6 locations open year round and in nearly any weather condition, these centers give you the opportunity to not only have some fun off-road, but learn about best driving practices!
- Above All Else, Slow Down: 4 wheel or all-wheel drive doesn’t make it any easier to stop in snow or on ice due to the loss of traction. No matter what vehicle you’re driving, it’s important to decrease speed as soon as inclement weather starts to keep as much traction available as possible.
- Do Your Best to Plan Ahead: With slippery roads, every input you make with the vehicles controls can be amplified, making it crucial to think ahead. That could mean planning for an upcoming turn (when to start the turn and how much steering angle do I need) or simply scanning the traffic ahead. Many winter accidents can be avoided by simply paying attention to the road ahead and adjusting your driving in advance, being proactive rather than reactive.
- Invest in the Right Tires: Just like you wouldn’t head to the ski slopes without skis, you shouldn’t drive in snow without snow tires! With a rubber compound that reacts effectively to the colder temperatures and a tread pattern that makes efficient use of the available traction they are an important part to safe winter driving. When road conditions deteriorate too much then snow chains may be the answer. While chains may be mandatory for two wheel drive cars in some locations they are also illegal in some locations. In addition to checking your local laws you should also check your vehicle’s owner’s manual to verify if chains are recommended for your vehicle. Snow chains can be very effective both on and off road however they require careful fitment and may need to be checked and tightened once fitted to your vehicle.
- Bring the Winter Necessities: Make sure that you have some of the most important winter car essentials with you at all times. At a minimum, you should have an ice scraper, small shovel, and some sand or cat litter, which can be used to increase traction if you are stuck spinning on ice. And of course, a hat, gloves and winter boots will keep you warm if you have to clean off or dig out your car!
- Ice is Your Enemy: Ice is the great equalizer – no matter how good your tires or driving skills are, an icy road can keep the car sliding. With nothing to grab onto, tires can spin out and skid. Avoid driving in icy weather conditions unless it’s an emergency – better to be safe than sorry!
- Know your vehicle: Driving in the snow is a perishable skill and you may need to fine tune your skills once the first snowflakes of the season start to fly. Find an open space where you can practice your braking (when does the ABS react?), acceleration (how much throttle before the tires spin?), and steering (how tight of a turn before the tires break traction?) and still have enough room to make a mistake and not cause any damage to you or your vehicle.