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Misconceptions About Winter Driving

Misconceptions About Winter Driving


Though the weather is already bright and sunny in Florida, we can't forget about winter driving. Much of the country has had one last hit of snow and ice. If you or your loved ones are planning to travel to any of the more snow-logged states, it's a good idea to brush up on winter driving. Drivers from more mild climates tend to have misconceptions about what to do when driving in the snow, but we've all fallen prey to these common misunderstandings.

1) Under-inflated tires get better traction
Under-inflating your tires to give your car better traction is a misconception that is blatantly wrong, as Accuweather.com highlighted, and could lead to many avoidable general auto insurance claims. In any climate, keeping your tires properly inflated is crucial for maintaining good traction, avoiding unnecessary wear and tear, getting good gas mileage, and staying safe on the road. Your tires should be inflated to the manufacturer specified range at all times for maximum safety. Remember that the number on the side of your tires is not the PSI to which your tires should be inflated, it's the maximum that they can be safely filled to. Check your owner's manual to find out the ideal inflation level. 

2) Lower gears are better in slick conditions
This one is almost true - lower gears are better in some slippery conditions, but not all, according to DrivingFast.net.

  • Pulling out - When you're pulling out in slippery conditions, a lower gear will provide more torque, meaning that your wheels may spin uselessly. Instead, choose the highest sensible gear for the situation - many experienced winter drivers recommend second gear for pulling out. Make sure to apply the gas slowly so that you don't grind your gears.
  • Driving downhill - When you're going downhill on ice or slush, lower gears are probably the best bet. While your traditional brakes can cause your wheels to slip, forcing you to rely on your ABS the whole way down, a lower gear can utilize engine braking, which may help you avoid a crash and a general auto insurance claim.

3) Four-wheel drive will keep a car from slipping
Many drivers with a large, four-wheel drive enabled vehicle think that they are invulnerable to ice and slippery conditions. This simply isn't the case, according to Accuweather.com. Four-wheel drive can help your car get the most out of the traction that it has by shifting engine power to the wheels with the most traction, but it does not give you any more grip than your tires already have. This means that many owners of four-wheel drive vehicles become overconfident in their cars and feel overly in control in icy conditions, leading to collisions and general auto insurance claims when their tires fail them. Four-wheel drive is a useful function, but it is still more important to be alert behind the wheel.

4) Pump the brakes to stop in the snow
Pumping the brakes, also known as "cadence braking," is an old technique left over from the time before anti-lock braking systems became standard. Nowadays, in an emergency braking situation, it is best to apply the brake firmly and steer in the direction that you want to go. The ABS will perform cadence braking at a rate and level of precision much higher than a human can, giving you more control and faster braking than you could accomplish by yourself. Before you drive in the snow, it is a good idea to practice using your ABS in a parking lot so that you get an idea of what the system feels like.



 
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