Real Coloradans are used to the crazy weather that this state can throw our way; it’ll be sunny and dry one minute and blowing snow the next. Even the off-road shops here are outfitted with a different set of 4×4 parts and accessories to help drivers cope with the mercurial conditions. As we officially settle into mid-winter, it can be tempting to carry on with your usual road handling despite the potentially dangerous conditions. But beware: most accidents during inclement weather are caused by overconfidence on the part of the driver. Feeling invincible, or placing too much trust in your truck’s technologies, can seriously undermine what should be a sensible and safe approach to the Colorado roads.
Many seasoned off-road drivers are accustomed to being the top dogs on the city streets as well — the extra grip of their tires, the boost in their torque, and their 4×4 capabilities give them a sense of security even on ice. If this is you, don’t let your great rig or years on the trails let you turn cavalier about the hazards of icy roads. There are several tips to keep you and your fellow drivers safe during this time of year — ones that any mechanic in Fort Collins would agree with. So buckle up, pull out of your snow packed driveway, and hit the roads safely this season!
This one seems like a no-brainer, but it still seems to slip (pun intended!) from many people’s minds. Whether they are suffering from overconfidence or there’s something more nefarious at play like black ice or other hard-to-miss dangers, some drivers continue to barrel down at their usual speeds. It doesn’t matter if you’re sporting 4×4 parts or not, all icy roads deserve to be traversed with a lower speed.
Let’s face it — some things can wait. Making runs to liquor stores, shopping malls, and even off-road shops are generally not worth the risk. There are over a dozen fatalities in Colorado every year just from icy road accidents, so if you are able to sit tight and wait for conditions to improve, please do. The fewer people tackling the icy roads at one time the better.
Go easy on the brakes.
Hitting the brakes is a common trigger for a slide or spin, even if you have the most advanced anti-lock braking system in the world (those don’t work well on ice anyway!). Try to anticipate your fellow drivers, control your speed, and plan ahead so you can tap those brakes as little or as gently as possible. This is also a great time of year to have your brakes serviced by your local mechanic in Fort Collins.
Turn into a slide.
If you happen to start sliding on the ice and have the self-assurance to do so, you can try to correct it. To properly correct a slide, turn your steering wheel in the same direction as the rear of your vehicle is sliding in. For example, if you begin to fishtail towards the right, gently turn your steering wheel right as well, keeping your eyes locked on the road ahead. However, no amount of fancy 4×4 parts can prepare you for the reality of icy road slippage, so just bear this tip in mind when around town this winter.
Don’t stop hard unless you have to.
On dry roads, making complete stops is considered the safest and most legal thing to do. However, during inclement winter weather, it’s actually more dangerous! If you are clear of traffic and other obstacles, try to avoid stopping hard, as this can initiate a skid or potential accident. Also, resist the urge to stop and assist other motorists that are having trouble: the more good Samaritans line up along the roads, the more dangerous the roads become. Make sure that they are alright and drive on. Just trust that emergency services can take care of any crashed or stranded cars in a safe manner.
Approach hills with caution.
Gravity is what keeps your rig’s tires on the ground, but it can also spell trouble on an icy hill. There are two basic tips to conquering these winter obstacles: gather speed before ascending and do not stop in the middle! The pros at your neighborhood off-road shops can tell you: trying to build momentum on an icy hill is nearly impossible, no matter what kind of car you have. Descend them with extremely low speed and always keep an eye out for a shoulder or grassy area that you can “bail” towards if needed.
We can all do our part to keep our local roads as safe as possible, even when the blowing snow and freezing rains lay down their slippery coatings. Take a deep breath, leave the house a bit early, and use extra discretion when traveling. And be sure to take your truck into your mechanic in Fort Collins if you suspect any of your 4×4 parts aren’t functioning correctly.