Tips for Driving in the Snow in Montana
The roads can get extremely icy during the winter in Montana. Here's a few tips to help ensure that you get where you're going safely.
This morning I drove into work on the Frontage road from Bear Canyon. On my way in, I had a couple people in trucks blow right by me going 60-65 mph with three inches of snow on the road. 4WD can help get you going and keep you going, but it does not change the laws of physics when it comes to stopping.
Here are a few helpful tips for driving in the snow:
- Fasten your seat belt every time you enter your vehicle
- Clear off your windows. Make sure you can see clearly in all directions. It's a lot easier to drive when you can see where you're going.
- Don't slam on your brakes! The best way to stop is to apply the brake slowly and firmly. If you start to slide, feathering the brakes can help you regain traction.
- Drive slowly. It's much more important to reach your destination safely, than it is to get there quickly. It's not a race. Just because the speed limit sign says 70, doesn't mean you should drive that fast.
- Keep your gas tank at least half full to keep your fuel lines from freezing.
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly is the best way to regaining traction and avoid spinning your tires. Don’t be in a hurry! Always take time to slow down at a stoplight. It takes much longer to slow down on icy roads.
- The normal following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. In other words, keep your distance from the vehicle in front of you. Always give yourself time to react and stop when needed.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- When driving a hill, don't stop. Once you lose your momentum, it will be very difficult to regain traction.
- Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow fall from the comfort of your home.