While it’s taking a near superhuman effort to not make a Game of Thrones reference at this point about what particular season is coming, there’s no denying that, depending on which part of the country you’re living in, things are about to get much snowier and icier for the next few months. If you’re just learning to drive or have only recently gotten your license, and you live in a more northern state, then welcome to Driving Hell; winter is about to change the way you take to the road. If you’re attending a driving school online, hopefully, they’re taking this seasonal change into account.
Yes, It Really Does Make A Difference
If you’ve never been in a car—even as a passenger—that’s had to drive through some significant winter road conditions, then you’re very lucky. For most people who have grown up in a country with four distinct seasons, winter is often the riskiest period of all for drivers. This is a time of severe climate and environmental change, and it makes a huge impact on driving. It poses new risks and challenges not just for drivers themselves when it comes to how they negotiate the road. It can pose problems for the car, even when it’s not doing anything except sitting there parked for the night.
This means, if you’re about to start driving for your first winter, there are some seasonal basics that you need to keep in mind. But don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Hopefully, your friends and family are keeping you up to speed on the new considerations you need to remember for winter driving, but even if they’re not, we’re here for you. We’re just nice guys that way.
Winter Car Care
Winter brings with it potentially severe drops in temperature, roads that may be coated in ice, and, of course, the snow that falls from the sky and covers everything, including the hood of your car and windshield. Depending on the severity of winter in your part of the country, there are three basics that winter drivers need to keep in mind for their car.
At the end of the day, you go inside your house and sleep. At the end of the day, your car is either parked in a driveway or a garage, neither of which is heated. Depending on the time of the year, this means that your car may spend anywhere from 8-12 hours in freezing temperatures. Consider all the liquids ––water, gasoline, and other–– that are required to run your car. Anti-freeze is something you need to make sure is in your car for the coldest days if you want that car to start up in the morning.
You can go the whole hog and get special winter tires installed with better traction, or just make sure your current tires are inspected and still in good shape. Either way, it’s a good idea to get this done. Icey road conditions mean that slipping is a lot more likely at this time of year, and you want to make sure you’ve got as much traction as you can get.
Brush And/Or Scraper
Snow and ice are going to accumulate on your car if you don’t park it in a garage, or even if you just leave it in a parking lot while it’s snowing and you go in to eat or shop. If you don’t want to use your coat sleeve to sweep snow off, keep a brush handy. If it’s freezing rain that turns to ice on your windshield, you’ll need something to scrape that off.
Change Your Driving Speed
If you’re only familiar with summer driving, the #1 tip for any winter driver is SLOW DOWN. You know how on the highway, the sign may say that you’re okay to drive 80 mph? If it’s snowing and there’s ice on the road, don’t do this just because the sign says it’s okay to. The maximum speed limit is for ideal driving conditions. Icy roads are NOT ideal.
By driving slower, you’re giving yourself a better chance to react to things. You’re also giving your tires a better chance to grip onto the road. Slower speeds are safer, and this is exactly what you want when conditions have actually become more dangerous.
Use More Space
Driving in winter isn’t just about lower speeds. It’s also about more braking time. One of the best ways to protect yourself—and other drivers on the road—is to look at the normal distance you give yourself from the car in front of you and increase it. That’s right, drive even further away from other cars in front of you and give more space.
Because of the road conditions, like ice, decelerating can often take a lot longer in the winter than it does during the summer. This means, for example, that when you brake, coming to a complete stop, which may have taken 10 seconds or less, may now take 12-15 seconds or even more. And when it comes to braking, even an increase of just a few seconds is enough to mean the difference between coming to a stop behind a car and hitting it. So if you’re the type of driver that loves tailgating other cars in the summer, when winter arrives, unless you have reflexes that work at warp speed, it’s pretty much a guarantee that your insurance rates will go up when you collide with the person in front of you.
The single, biggest favor you can do for yourself when it comes to winter driving conditions is to take everything slower. Drive slower, brake with more time, plan for longer commutes when you’re going to a particular destination. Being in a rush isn’t going to help matters any if you take a turn too quickly, brake in a panic and simply slide off the road.
If you’re just learning to drive now, a good driving school online and a professional driving instructor will both take into account the new driving factors you need to consider when you’re behind the wheel at this time of year.
Finding A Good Online Driving School
Good online driving school is the key to being safe on the road. Especially if you live in an area that is covered by snow on a regular basis, you’ll get the appropriate road safety, traffic laws, and responsible driver training at a quality online driving school.
Here are some valuable tips for looking for an online driving school:
- Minimum 5-year operating history
A school that’s been around for at least five years can give you an idea about reputation. Check out their website and customer reviews. It will be even better if the school in question has accreditation from reputable institutions like the Better Business Bureau.
- Multiple learning styles
What’s great about online driving school is the flexibility to learn according to your learning style. With most schools like iDriveSafely or DriversEd.com, you can get different modes of learning, including text, audio, video, and animations.
Another great thing about online driving school is that you can access learning tools anytime and anywhere because they’re available online, 24/7. You might even be stuck in a snowstorm, but thanks to online driver’s ed, you can have a handy manual right in the palm of your hand! We recommend Aceable for an innovative and tech-savvy mobile application.
- 24/7 customer service
Make sure to go with a course that offers 24/7 customer service and technical support. Nothing could be more frustrating than waiting for a team to get back to you. With schools like MyImprov and DriverEdToGo, you can rely on immediate feedback and responses with whatever concerns you might have.
Before you can brave the snowstorm, it’s critical that you have a solid foundation of driver knowledge with a quality driving school. Make sure your online driver’s ed ticks all these boxes so you can stay safe on the road, whatever the weather!