Tips for non-natives to survive (and thrive) Colorado’s ice and snowstorms
Denver was among the top cities for population growth in 2014, according to the Denver Post. That means a lot of newbie winter drivers this season. But no need to fret, Vita Locators (and GirlZ) are here to provide some words of wisdom for getting through this winter wonderland.
Test your tires and breaks before you really need them
Before you get yourself in a bad situation, find an empty parking lot near your home on a winter day and take your car for a test-drive. That means turning radius, breaking and how far your car may (or may not) slide in snowy conditions. This will help you better understand your car’s handling and also how to react in a bad situation.
It probably goes without saying but if there is snow on the ground, slow down. This is especially true on bridges and overpasses which freeze over quicker than normal roads.
Check your tires (and consider upgrades)
Having a good tread and winter tires can do wonders in the winter. At the very least, check your tire tread and get all-season tires. Chains or studs are not usually necessary for normal commuting. If you do opt in for chains, however, be sure to review Colorado’s chain laws.
Snow tires vs all-season tires
Speaking of tires… which are best?
Snow tires, aka winter tires, have the best traction and shortest stopping distances on snow and ice. If you need todrive no matter the conditions they will keep you safely on the road in the broadest spread of conditions. The down side is they aren’t meant for warm weather so you’ll need to switch them out during the Summer.
All-season tires are just that — tires that can get you through all sorts of weather. While they do offer more flexibility and ease, they don’t offer as much grip as winter tires. Stopping distance is also impaired (but better than other tires).
When in doubt, stick to major roadways
If you are worried about whether you can make it out and about, stick to major roadways and interstates. While accumulation is not as much of a problem as you get closer in to Denver, icy roads and hazardous white-outs can happen anywhere.
Major roadways are not only more traveled (if you need assistance) but are also frequently cleared by road crew.
AWD, four-wheel drive and SUVs are not impervious
Sometimes, all-wheel driver have a false sense of security when driving during snow, causing them to enter turns too quickly or be unprepared when they skid out. AWD can only aid acceleration. It doesn’t provide more grip in corners, or help drivers stop.
Steer into spins
If you catch yourself sliding or spinning, turn your wheelinto the spin. Once you get traction again, then straighten out. Most people’s initial reaction to jerk the wheel in the opposite direction or break hard. Unfortunately, both of these reactions will only cause the car to go further into a tailspin.
Practice in a parking lot until it becomes a habit.