CHOKEPOINTS

Sully’s snow driving tips ahead of Seattle’s upcoming inclement weather

Jan 11, 2024, 8:17 AM

snow driving tips...

A person clears snow from a vehicle on February 13, 2021 in Seattle, Washington. A large winter storm dropped heavy snow across the region. (Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images)

(Photo: David Ryder/Getty Images)

We’re getting our first taste of snow in the lowlands. So it’s a good time to go over some of my favorite tips.

First, let me say that I know all of you are fabulous snow drivers. I’m reaching out to everyone else who might be a little nervous or lack snow-driving expertise.

Number one is a no-brainer. Just slow down. Speed is a killer on slick roads. It can make you lose control faster and lose precious time to recover from a skid or a slide. Speed also goes with over-confidence. One in your abilities and two in the abilities of your vehicle. Four-wheel or all-wheel drive is great for getting traction, but it does nothing for stopping. Once you lock up your brakes, you’re done. As one state trooper once told me, 18-wheel drive won’t help you stop.

More on driving in the snow: Semi-truck collides with passenger car on Blewett Pass

And to reinforce that, here’s a little advice from a AAA safety video.

“Plan your maneuvers well in advance and do one thing at a time,” the video said. “Brake then turn then accelerate and keep your speed way down.”

You need to avoid heavy braking too. Once you’ve lost traction, you’re done. Try down-shifting your car, even your automatic, to help slow you. It always works best if you’re already going slow when you do this. Apply steady and firm pressure.

This next tip is a really good one.

“Always look and steer where you want to go,” the video said.

Think about that for a minute. Look where you want to go. Don’t focus on what you might hit. It sounds so simple, but in a skid, you might be a little nervous. If you’re looking where you want to go, your instincts and muscles will make you work that way.

I found this out in Portland a few years ago. I was skidding down a hill and started worrying about the parked cars I was about to hit. I then focused on where I wanted to go and worked through the skid to avoid a crash. This really works.

More from Chokepoints: Traffic shift coming for I-5 in Fife, if the weather allows

As for skids, always turn in the direction you are skidding. If your rear end starts skidding out to the right, turn the wheel to the right. That will help you recover faster. If you turn to the left in that scenario, it’s just going to kick your rear out even more and put you in circles.

And don’t make any maneuver too fast. Don’t turn fast. Don’t brake fast.

Small, controlled motions are always better. And as a family member found out the hard way, never use your cruise control in snow or ice.

Safe travels.

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