Winter weather puts snow, slush and ice on the roads, and makes driving dangerous. Kelley Blue Book wants to make sure that you’re safe in these conditions.
KBB – citing Federal Highway Administration data – said that 24% of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement.
This results in more than 1,300 deaths and 116,800 injuries annually.
To avoid becoming one of these grim statistics, follow these tips for safer winter driving:
- All-wheel drive counts. All-wheel drive aids acceleration and maximizes available traction, sending power to all four corners. This comes in handy when accelerating from a stop on wet, icy or snowy surfaces and makes it less likely that you’ll get stuck, particularly on slippery inclines.
- However, the type of tires on your car matter more. It’s important to remember that the tires are the only part of a vehicle that actually touch the ground. As a result, they are ultimately responsible for the level of traction a vehicle will or won’t have, regardless of how good its traction control, stability control, or all-wheel drive system. If the tires can’t grip on snow and ice, you’re not going anywhere. Snow tires (or “winter” tires) offer more traction than all-season tires.
- There is no one-size-fits-all setup. However, where you live, the amount of snowfall the area sees, and your level of driving comfort should dictate which type of vehicle and tires are right for you. Keep in mind that winter tires will wear rapidly in warmer temperatures, so you should be ready to change your winter tires out when the weather changes.
- Be practical. While the top option remains an all-wheel drive vehicle fitted with winter tires, if you’re budget-conscious, front-wheel drive with winter tires is another good option. Due to the price premium seen on today’s all-wheel drive vehicles, experts suggest buying a car that fits your everyday lifestyle, rather than occasional needs.
- Don’t use a mixed set of snow tires. Make sure to fit matching snow tires to all four wheels, rather than a mixed set at each end, which can compromise handling.
- Have your vehicle inspected by a trusted mechanic. You should ensure your vehicle has all necessary maintenance performed, including checking tire pressure, fluid levels, the function of the heater, defroster, and wipers, as well as the health of the brakes, battery, and all belts and hoses.
- When in doubt, slow down. Even with a fully-winterized vehicle, staying alert and traveling at safe speeds are essential to driving safely in winter weather.
That last tip is the best one. No matter how well-equipped your car is, and no matter how experienced you may be in driving in foul conditions, there is no substitute for caution. Slow down. You can learn more at kbb.com.