Up until this week, we’ve all been lucky to enjoy a relatively mild winter. Throughout most the country, there has been more rain than snow and more days of 50 degrees than 15. Unless you are a polar bear or an avid skier, this has been a good thing. You have been able to save on your utilities bill, not had to worry about your car starting in the cold, and not had to brave dangerously slick roads on the drive to work.

That is, until yesterday, when most of the Midwest and Northeast were blanketed by the season’s first major snow storm. You probably noticed that most people around you have forgotten how to drive in such snowy and icy conditions. To make sure that you don’t become one of those drivers, Pat Goss provides some simple but often forgotten tips on how to drive in snow, ice, and when you should break out the tire chains.

Here’s to you having a safe driving winter from CARCHEX!

You have questions. Pat Goss has answers.

What are some tips to driving in snowy or icy conditions?

What are some of the big mistakes drivers make when driving on ice and snow? Well…

Number one: Too much accelerator. The key to moving forward and stopping and so on, is the very gentle use of the accelerator. The harder you step on it, the more you spin. The more you spin, the less control you have and usually the less forward momentum you have as well. Spinning tires don’t move you. Tires that don’t spin are what actually move you. That’s number one.

Number two: Following too close. You have to be very very careful when it’s slippery because you have to allow extra distance for stopping. You can’t stop on a dime. And for those of you who have all-wheel drive and four-wheel drive vehicles, you are usually the WORST offenders. Just because you can go like stink doesn’t mean that you can stop. All cars have four-wheel brakes so you don’t have any significant advantage in stopping. You have to maintain the same distances and all the rest of it as people who do not have all-wheel or four-wheel drive.

What about snow chains?

Then comes the issue of chains. When should you use chains? Well, on a lot of modern cars, you should never use chains. You have to refer to the owner’s manual and it will have some very strict cautions and rules as far as using chains. When you can, if you can, and so on. And don’t second-guess those rules because the folks who designed the car are dead serious.