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Tires and how drivers maneuver them is essential to safe winter driving. Tires are a driver’s only contact between their vehicle and an icy road. Foust says, “All-season tires mean they’re not really good at anything.” Therefore, experts suggest drivers who drive in snow should purchase snow tires. Mounting four snow tires, preferably of a winter compound and tread design, can make the biggest impact for successful winter driving. Simply install the proper tires and adjust the driving style to compensate for slick roads. Specifically, up-shift to a higher gear the instant the tires begin to slip. This limits the amount of torque to the wheels.
The recent trend towards four wheel drive vehicles and SUVs has drivers convinced they’re safer driving in winter conditions. Having all four wheels pull the vehicle can definitely increase its stability and traction. Conversely, four-wheel drive means four-wheel slide. Four wheel drive does not aid a vehicle while it’s turning or stopping. The Canadian Automotive Authority (CAA) says, “many people think that four wheel drive or traction control makes them invincible on the road. However, the reality is, proper winter tires and the proper driving attitude make the most difference.” In fact, because SUVs have a higher center of gravity and a softer suspension, the load transfer around curves and while stopping can create more dangerous situations.
Drivers.com reports, “(SUV drivers) are the ones you see rolled over in a ditch because they don’t understand the physics of driving a vehicle with a high center of gravity and excessive body roll. This leads to the inability to brake effectively. The combination of these dynamics on slick roads translate to SUVs being involved in an estimated 80 percent of all winter driving accidents.”