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Ten things for winter-driving virgins to know before hitting snowy roads

A few months back, we shared our top ten driving tips non-Colorado natives forget at start of their second winter here. But with a major storm hitting the area, and the likelihood that folks without much experience behind the wheel in winter conditions will be visiting the Broncos' hometown to watch the Super Bowl, we turned to the experts: the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. Below, see ten pieces of advice for before and during your drive, ordered and photo-illustrated by us and featuring NHTSA text. Count down the selections below. Number 10: Drive slowly
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.
Number 9: Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly
In general, if you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don't have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
Continue to keep counting down the ten things for winter-driving virgins to know before hitting snowy roads. Number 8: If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm
Ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This steering maneuver may require additional counter-steering before you can regain full control of the vehicle. Continue to stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to regain control of your vehicle.
Number 7: Practice cold weather driving when your area gets snow -- but not on a main road
Until you've sharpened your winter weather driving skills and know how your vehicle handles in snowy conditions, it's best to practice in an empty parking lot in full daylight.
Continue to keep counting down the ten things for winter-driving virgins to know before hitting snowy roads. Number 6: Keep your gas tank close to full, even with a hybrid-electric vehicle
If you get stuck in a traffic jam or in snow, you might need more fuel than you anticipated to get home or to keep warm. Note: To avoid carbon monoxide poisoning when stuck in snow, be sure to keep your vehicle's exhaust pipe clear of snow and ice, run your vehicle only in the open with the windows partially down, and run it only long enough to keep warm.
Number 5: Familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system
Let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.
Continue to keep counting down the ten things for winter-driving virgins to know before hitting snowy roads. Number 4: Before moving your car, clean snow, ice or dirt from the windows
Also clear the forward sensors, headlights, tail lights and backup camera.
Number 3: Make sure your windshield wipers work and replace worn blades
Consider installing heavy-duty winter wipers if you live in an area that gets a lot of snow and ice.
Continue to keep counting down the ten things for winter-driving virgins to know before hitting snowy roads. Number 2: If road conditions are hazardous, avoid driving if possible
Wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle.
Number 1: Don't rush!
Allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely.

Send your story tips to the author, Michael Roberts.

More from our Lists & Weirdness archive circa November 2013: "Top ten driving tips non-Colorado natives forget at start of their second winter here."

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts