Published on Wednesday, 30 November -0001 00:00
Avoid stress, strain and danger Stress, strains, accidents and other dangerous conditions often accompany a snowstorm. Although thousands of drivers are digging their cars out from this winter's snow, a sore back, fender-benders and serious injuries do not have to be the inevitable result. To get off to a safe start, experts advise some common-sense tips. "Clear the tailpipe of any snow before you even start your car engine," advised Ray Palermo, director of public relations for Response Insurance, a national car insurer. "And, if the snow is above the bottom of your car, dig a hole through the snow to the mid-section of your car's underbody to allow any leaks from your exhaust system to vent as well." Without proper ventilation, deadly gases can quickly build in the passenger compartment. In addition, he suggested: Clearing the ice and snow from your windshield and rear window is a good start, but don't stop there, the headlights, taillights and side-view mirrors are essential for visibility. Do not forget to clear away snow from the hood and roof, which will only blow onto your windows again, and onto the cars behind you. It is tempting to get your car cleared off in the first attempt, but if you are not physically up to the task, take it in steps, bring a friend or hire a local towing company. If digging and spreading of sand near the wheels still does not get you out, use your car's weight to your advantage. Flooring the accelerator pedal rarely helps and can result in an unexpected and potentially uncontrollably dangerous acceleration. However, by rocking the car with quick forward and reverse movements, you can often use the weight and force of the car to push out and over snow. If once you are on the road you go into a skid, turn in the direction of the skid. It may seem counterintuitive at first and even a little scary when doing it, but turning into the skid is your best chance to regain some traction. If you have anti0-lock brakes, apply firm and continuous pressure. If you do not have anti-lock brakes, mimic that effect by pumping the brakes. When you are heading up an icy or snow-covered hill, you will have the best chance of safely making it up by approaching it at a slow speed and maintaining it at a steady rate. Avoid sudden stops, quick accelerations and jerky motions. When heading down, shift into a lower gear before making your descent and maintain a slow steady speed, rather than relying on your brakes to improve traction.