How to Drive in the Snow – instructions from an Ohio girl

I’m from Ohio. 

Which looks like THIS in the winter: 

Actually this was December, and the snow was just getting started. It gets worse. January and February are our bad months. #HudsonOhio 

It isn’t THIS bad where I am from. This is an hour north of me- Chardon Ohio. Chardon does consistently get this much snow. We all know what the term “lake affect” means. I hope the guy who posted this photo online doesn’t get all photo rights angry on me. 😉 

I live in Britain. Which is kinda like living in Texas when it comes to snow. Except without the “ye-haws” and cowboys. No one knows what to do. A ridiculously small amount of snow and .. 

the world halts. 

And I chuckle to myself. 

It didn’t used to be this bad. When I first arrived here 9 years ago I was royally disappointed and thought all the films had lied to me. Where were the snowy English countryside photo worthy scenes I had seen in films like The Holiday??! “All a lie!!!” I told disappointed Americans back home. The first few years proved to have consistent S.A.D inducing grey rainy winters, but no snow. The last 4 winters have changed and have given Britain a bit of snow each year. Not Ohio snow mind you. But a bit. The country still copes like the deep south in the US with airports shutting down with 2 inches on the runway and everyone canceling things and locking themselves indoors for days on end with a 4 inch snowfall. After watching the few brave drivers who venture out make a  royal mess out of their already stuck cars, I thought I could give a few suggestions on driving in the snow. 

How to Drive in the Snow – instructions from an Ohio girl

1.) If you can, don’t buy a rear wheel drive car. Front wheel is better. 4WD is awesomest. (mine is front wheel). 

2.) As most of you already own your snowed under car, start with going out and heating your car up a few minutes longer than usual before you drive it. Be kind to your cold car. Clear all the snow off so you can see. Obvious things. 

3.) For those moments you know you are stuck, start in second gear. 

4.)  *****DO NOT realize you are stuck and then continue to press the accelerator harder in the snowy spot you are in. You will make it more stuck. You are over RPMing your wheels and creating an nice smooth snow trench to have your wheels lodged in deeper.***** 

5.) If you can, reverse, just get yourself in a different position. 

6.) The wiggle affect: imagine your car is a wiggly snake. Or a bucking bronco.(ye-haw we are back in Texas) That is how you want to get it out. After reversing your car and turning your wheels, put it back into second gear, slowly, not over-reving at first. Turn the wheel left and right as you let your car writhe a bit to get out of the snowy spot it’s in. If your car is not spinning in one place, if there is any slippage or forward movement, then this is a good time to push the accelerate a bit harder. If you get stuck again, reverse again and repeat this. 

This happened to me today: My sat nav took me to a road that was ridiculously unplowed and full of snow and other stuck cars (BAD sat nav) and it wasn’t even where I was going. By the time I realized my predicament, I couldn’t reverse up the snowy hill because my car is front wheel drive. I ended up having to go further down the snowy hill (not ideal.. this was dumb on my part to end up in this situation due to the previous roads I was on I should have known better. They were getting progressively worse. If you ever think.. “follow sat nav or don’t follow sat nav because she is leading you astray..???” always don’t follow sat nav. Kinda like the bad woman in proverbs.. stay away!)I got to the bottom, turned in the snow, and then used the wriggle forward and reverse and wriggle forward all the way up the hill. Because I had to climb as well, I used a bigger motion of letting my wheels go back and forth to get the added grip to climb. I had to accelerate harder on this because of the climb dimension. I also let second gear propel me forward with it’s own motion which has more umph than 1st, hence the need for it. Only do this bigger wriggle if you are not at risk of hitting another car. 

7.) Simple rule of thumb.. if you are wriggling forward, accelerate a bit harder, if you are not and are definitely spinning your wheels, don’t accelerate, stop and reverse your car and reposition it. 

8.) When you start to lose control: Getting control of your car in snow or ice means you have to go against your natural and trained instincts of being a driver in order to control it when the car begins to lose it on the road. Do not brake. I know right? That’s the first thing you want to do. But don’t. You won’t stop anyways because of the slipping and it will make the back end of your car swing out. Or worse, completely spin the car. Take your foot off the accelerator and let the wheel coast WITH the action of the direction the car is slipping out of control. It is how you will straighten the car out.. allowing give until it straightens itself out with you gently guiding it (not going directly against it) as it’s slipping. 

9.) This means you should be driving for the conditions and anticipating snow and ice on the road ahead so you don’t HAVE to hit a hard brake. If you are going too fast.. the above correct instruction will be much harder to gain control of the vehicle if you are going too fast.

10.) If you must brake. I find short taps help rather than a hard brake. 

And if you don’t follow these instructions.. then I guess I will have the roads all to myself for a few weeks. 🙂 

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