Victorians aren’t used to the white stuff, so here are some snow tips to help drivers out. (Nicole Crescenzi/News Staff)

Tips for driving in the snow

With snow on the roads pretend you have a hot pot of gravy on your lap - that’s probably a safe speed

Many Island drivers haven’t seen a lot of snow, so it might be time to consider some driving tips.

While winter tires aren’t mandatory everywhere, ICBC does recommend at least having M+S (mud and snow) tires, and a weather-equipped vehicle when taking to the road in the snow – that’s right folks, leave your sports cars at home.

Before you hit the road, Victoria Police are asking drivers make sure to clean off your car of snow. While driving, excessive snow can slide off your vehicle and hit others.

ICBC’s biggest tip for once you hit the roads is to drive slow, reminding drivers that posted speed signs are for ideal weather conditions.

“The key to winter driving is to be slow and steady – avoid unexpected sudden movements that could cause you to skid. That means you should accelerate gently, steer and turn slowly and gradually, and brake slowly and early,” said ICBC Media spokesperson Lindsay Wilkins in an email.

“Anticipate turns, stops and lane changes well in advance. Use low-beam lights and don’t use cruise control on slippery roads.

“You should also be aware of the differences between using standard and anti-lock brakes (ABS). For standard brakes, pump them gently; for ABS, apply steady pressure and you’ll feel the brakes pulse (this is normal).”

In other words, if there’s snow on the roads pretend you have a hot pot of gravy on your lap and that’s probably a safe speed. Always give your neighbour a safe amount of distance.

If you need to speed up or slow down, pretend that the gas pedal and brake are very delicate– just tap them if they’re standard brakes, gently and quickly. For ABS, less pumping and more slow, steady pressure. Same for your gas pedal. Do not slam on your brakes. Do not step on the gas – especially if you start sliding.

ALSO READ: Another snow day for Greater Victoria following night of snow fall

Keep control of your steering wheel and avoid any sharp turns, just in case you hit a patch of black ice.

“Black ice is virtually impossible to see ahead of time. That’s why it’s so important to slow down and keep your distance from other vehicles,” Wilkins said. “If you start to skid, ease off the accelerator and look and steer smoothly in the direction you want to go. Be careful not to over-steer and don’t brake – this could make the situation worse. You may need to repeat this manoeuvre several times until you regain control.”

ICBC warns that the most common places for black ice includes shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections where packed snow and car exhaust freeze quickly.

When driving in slush, ICBC recommends watching out for ridges of build up, advising that people wait for a clear area before any lane changes.

READ: Saanich sinkhole one of several hazards to keep crews busy on ‘Snowmageddon Day 2’

READ: Greater Victoria snowfall breaks 2014 record

If you get stuck, ICBC recommends clearing the snow from around your tires, and putting something in front of the tires to gain traction, such as old mats, carpets, salt, sand or cat litter. Then, rock back and forth to get more distance until you are able to move. If that doesn’t work, you can call for roadside assistance, or 911 if it’s an emergency.

Last but not least, consider avoiding the road all together. Victoria police recommend staying off the roads if you don’t need to be anywhere.

nicole.crescenzi@vicnews.com


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