What drivers don’t know can get them into trouble
The snow is falling and winter has arrived in Boulder.
Along with fun of sledding and snowball fights, the snow also brings danger to the roads of the city. Some CU students have little or no winter driving experience and simply do not know how to drive in snowy and icy conditions.
“If it is snowing or if the roads are icy I will avoid driving my car at all costs,” said Jacques Stunzi, a sophomore open-option major.
The first thing to check off the list before venturing out in the snow is to make sure you have the right car equipment. This includes good tires for winter conditions. Consult a local tire shop, such as Big O Tires, Firestone or Peerless Tyre Company, to see if your current tires are adequate.
Next, it is important to keep various safety items in your vehicle. This may include a first aid kid, a safety blanket and flashlight. It is also important to have extra window washer fluid on hand, in case you run out on the road.
Once you are out on the road, here are some tips for safe driving in winter weather.
The number one mistake drivers make is going too fast on icy roads. Winter car accidents can happen because of ice-induced skids that are, most of the time, controllable.
“Slippery roads make every mistake happen faster and more dramatically,” according to a report on Edmunds.com.
The technique to controlling a skid on ice seems like it is the opposite of what you should do.
When in a skid, drivers usually overcompensate, by turning the wheel violently in the opposite direction of the skid and slamming on the brakes.
Neil Dunlop, adviser for Edmunds.com, said both of these practices make the skid worse. What drivers should do to pull out of an ice-induced skid is gently steer into the direction of the skid and accelerate.
This transfers weight from the tires that are slipping to the power of the turning back wheels. If the skid is uncontrollable and you need to slow or stop the car quickly, pumping the brakes is often a successful solution.
Some drivers can also end up in a bind by understeering. On icy roads, it sometimes takes more wheel angle than usual to complete a turn because of the loss of traction. The only thing that can correct this is experience in judging just how much to turn the wheel.
When in a skid, inexperienced drivers can fall victim to what experts call “target fixation”. This means that instead of taking action to correct the car’s slip, the driver freaks out and does nothing but concentrate on being scared. All drivers need to do after they learn the corrective technique, is to calm down, Dunlop said.
Contact Campus Press Staff Writer Daniel Carter at email@example.com.