Winter Traction - best in bitter cold
Getting adequate winter traction is important to get going with our vehicle. It's also important for turning and stopping.
Some of us dread the cold weather because it brings on slippery conditions. That's understandable, but oddly enough, traction is best when it gets very cold.
Let's look at what provides us traction in winter weather and why bitter cold temperatures provide us the best traction available on snow and ice.
Our traction in the winter centers around:
- Type of tires and their condition. Standard passenger tires with good tread work well. Snow tires are better. Studded snow tires are better still.
- Force applied to the wheels. Too much force with starting up will have you spinning your wheels. Too much force with braking will have you sliding. This also means no sudden or severe turning. Otherwise, you'll lose tracking and you won't be making and turn, but going straight instead.
- Road surface conditions like snow, ice, moisture and loose material all influence winter traction. Loose is bad, but wet is worse.
- Speed of our vehicle. It plays an important role. Even if the road surface isn't wet, you can still "hydroplane" on loose material if your speed is too great. Sometimes 20 miles per hour is too fast on loose material.
- Employment of traction assist devices like tire chains. They can be very helpful, but they're really only intended only for emergencies.
- Temperature of the road and air. It plays a key role in winter traction. The colder, the better. Temperatures near freezing promote melting of snow and ice under the weight of your vehicle. When it's bitter cold outside, your tires don't melt the snow and ice so readily, so you maintain better traction.
It's true that winter weather brings on slippery conditions, but the colder the weather, the better the traction potential. You generally have control over most of the factors associated with winter driving, but temperature isn't one of them, so be mindful of how it affects your ability to grip the road.
Slow, steady, careful and deliberate are the keys to success. Your vehicle behaves very differently on roads covered with snow and ice, so become familiar with how it behaves and be mindful that conditions change throughout the day simply because of changes in temperature.
Done with Winter Traction, take me back to Safe Driving
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