Denver Winter driving requires tackling tough road conditions hardly seen anywhere else in the country. Be sure to navigate safely this Winter with these three simple Denver Winter driving tips. Get all the latest safety information on navigating snowy roads by contacting Mile High Driver Training today, before the snow falls!
Denver Winter Driving Tip #1: Slow Down
Today’s one-minute physics lesson: friction. Ice and snow are slick to the touch, meaning less friction. Dry pavement is rough to the touch, indicating more friction. Less friction means it takes more time to stop inertia (i.e. a vehicle). The slippery ice and snow require a longer distance to stop than on dry pavement. Seems like a simple concept, but people often forget to apply it to speed.
- According to the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Association, it is recommended reducing speed by ½ on snow-packed roadways.
- Roadways that typically see speeds in the 60 mph range should be navigated at ~30 mph in snowy conditions in order to ensure the vehicle stops in approximately the same amount of time it would doing 60 mph under dry conditions.
- Snowy roadways also require 2x to 4x longer to than stop on dry roads. The City of Evans suggests increasing the time between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you from 3-4 seconds to 8-10 seconds.
- Snow tires can help grip the road better in snowy conditions, but do little for decreased stop distance or time
What’s the Deal With Winter ‘Snow’ Tires, Anyway?
Snow tires are engineered to perform optimally at or below 40F. Unless you plan to stay well in the Rocky Mountains for an extended period, there’s really no reason to slap on the seasonal snow tires until daily high temperatures hover below 40 degrees fahrenheit. If – and when – there’s the inevitable 70+ degree day during what is otherwise a snowy Denver Winter, driving will not be hindered at all with the use of snow tires. Although optimal below 40F, Winter tires in no way become obsolete or unsafe if the mercury rises. Once the temperature turns and remains above 40-50F, however, it’s time to change out Winter tires for good ‘ol All Road tires.
With such unpredictability in Denver Winters year to year, your snow tires’ season could be as short as 3 months, or as long as 6-7 months per year.
Furthermore, only put studded snow tires on your vehicle if remaining in an environment with total snow coverage – like an extended stay above the Rocky Mountain treeline. Studded tires destroy bare roads and wear quickly on asphalt. Tires are not cheap, get the most out of them. Even in the high altitudes of the Rocky Mountains, studded snow tire season is still typically less than four months long.
Denver Winter Driving Tip #2: Stay Alert
As it’s been shown, operating a vehicle safely takes longer on icy, snowy roads. One thing that doesn’t have to change is your alertness. Nearly 3200 people were killed in 2014 due to distracted driving.
While you may feel comfortable driving distracted on dry pavement, you may not be afforded the time to recover from distractions in the same way you can on dry roads. A slight jerk of the wheel or a quick pump of the brakes may correct a course on dry pavement but can send a vehicle out of control on snowy, icy roads – especially at speeds typical to dry driving.
Denver Winter Driving Tip # 3: Be Comfort Confident
So often people get into trouble operating a vehicle due to societal assumptions that simply are not true. These societal assumptions – ‘follow the speed of traffic, whatever it may be’ being one – can lead to a loss in driving confidence, which reduces good decision making. Don’t let the driving style of others determine your own. It’s simply all about YOUR level of confidence, and NO ONE else’s.
When on snowy roads, do what you feel is comfortable.
Crazies charging up the left lane, passing at the speed of light? Don’t sweat it. Just go whatever speed is comfortable for you. (NOTE: Don’t be one of the crazies.) Think you can handle a pass but aren’t sure you can do so safely? Just wait for a straight uphill section and give it a go, or take another second to enjoy being in YOUR confidence zone.
Denver Winter Driving Tip Bonus: Call MHDT Today!
Still have questions regarding tackling snow-packed and icy roads in Denver and the surrounding area? Contact Mile High Driver Training, today! MHDT is the largest third-party testing site in Denver, committing to creating safe and responsible drivers in Denver (including Denver Winter driving information) for over 10 years.