Driving instructor shares tips on winter driving

Posted at 5:01 PM, Nov 08, 2022

BOZEMAN — The snow is coming down, but we still have places we need to be. It can be inconvenient, nerve-racking, and downright dangerous, but driving on snow and ice is a skill that anyone can acquire.

“Drive slowly and safely,” said Noah DeMichelis and Stefan Larsson. The two freshmen at Bozeman High School have some time before they’re legally allowed to hit the roads, but they say they have some concerns.

"I’m worried about people who aren’t used to the snow because I could get killed or something,” said Larsson.

Jerry Bauer is a local driving instructor and he says this is a valid concern.

“Some of my drivers, usually more boys than girls tend to be too confident and they get themselves in trouble because things happen quickly and they don’t know how to respond,” said Bauer.

This is why Bauer says it’s so vital for people to be familiar with the proper steps to drive safely in snowy or icy conditions.

“Check for road conditions, stopping ability, and starting ability," said Bauer. "I actually do pay attention to the license plates. If I have somebody in front of me from a southern state that has maybe never driven on snow or ice, I’m even more cautious.”

Bauer says proper maintenance of your car plays a huge role in safely driving in the snow and ice. He says to clear off your windshield, roof, and lights. Of course, having snow tires makes a huge difference too.

“4 wheel drive does give you more traction when you’re taking off, but when you’re turning or trying to stop it does not help you,” said Bauer.

Bauer says it’s important to know what your breaks can do

"If you happen to have an older car, it might not have active emergency breaks,” said Bauer. “When you step on the breaks abruptly you’re going to slide.”

He said being extremely observant and aware of what’s going on around you is key.

Bauer said you should do these things while out on the roads:

Be prepared by traveling with extra clothing, a flashlight, blanket, food, water, cellphone charger, bag of sand/salt, windshield scraper, jumper cables, and always have at least ½ tank of gas.

Slow down, accelerate and decelerate slowly, increase your following distance to five to six seconds.

Use extra caution on bridges, watch for black ice, and if conditions look bad, get off the road.