Seven tips for operating a motor vehicle in winter weather

Texans are great. Great at barbecue, great at hats in general, great at smashing together words that generally don’t fit. Seriously, y’all, it’s an accomplishment.

One thing Texans aren’t super great at?


So, for anyone interested: from someone who has managed to end up bass-ackwards on a major highway (more than once), tires spinning, holding up a line of 60 frustrated cars on a snowy hill and landing on the losing side of “I can make it into that un-shoveled parking spot!” here are a few tips on how to successfully navigate the streets when those rare cold and slippery days descend.

#1: Newton

17th century, great brain, terrible wig? You know the one. To quote his most famous and recognizable words:

Yeah, I have no idea what that means.

What we DO all know, but sometimes forget (as evidenced by the number of times I’ve learned the socks versus hardwood floors lesson the hard way), is the “object in motion tending to stay in motion” part. This isn’t so much a tip as a general reminder. When it snows, just think of yourself as a rosy-cheeked physicist driving a Toyota Tacoma.

#2: Gimme a brake

Obvious, right? But not really. We all know how to use our brakes until the roads turn into Rockefeller Center at Christmastime, and we’ve got to reprogram our whole routine.

Think of it like walking down a flight of stairs holding an infant and a cup of scalding hot coffee. If you try to stop too quickly, the coffee sloshes and baby gets burned. If you don’t stop at all – well, you’ll run right into the wall at the end and nobody’s happy. Whatever you do, just don’t drop the baby.

Brake early, brake easy and brake often.

Pro Tip: If you feel comfortable and are in a safe place to do so, give yourself a “brake check.” Test it out when you’re not in imminent danger of injuring yourself or someone else and see how the roads react to your two-ton errand machine.


You forgot rule #2. That’s okay. Just. Don’t. Panic. Panic is what gets you tip to tail with the 18-wheeler who is also drifting through the intersection in slow motion.

Keep your wheel straight, keep light and intermittent pressure on the brakes, and keep your head.

#4: Spinning out

Your truck is awesome at navigating dirt roads and climbing rocky precipices, but it’s been defeated by three inches of soft powder, and Karen is behind you honking, and the slush is unrelenting, and those 97-inch all-terrain tires are not doing their job at all.

That’s okay.

First, whoever is behind you can wait – don’t worry about them. They’ll go around you, or they’ll hang tight, or maybe, just maybe, they’ll get out to help!

Second, reverse is your friend! Don’t gun it, but a gentle rocking motion between drive, reverse, drive can get a Hyundai Tiburon out of a two-foot snowbank. Trust me. (Also: this is the time to mind the people behind you. Karen might be angrier than she already was if you back into her PT Cruiser.)

#5: Rear window

A whole new kind of horror movie. You’re doing great, but apparently the person behind you is not. (Send them this when you get home).

Chances are, they are factoring the predictability of your car’s movement into their attempts at control, and if you make an unexpected maneuver to avoid them, it may have the exact opposite effect.

That said: You are the master of your destiny (Napoleon Hill, 1883-1970). You do what you need to do to keep yourself safely out of harm’s way.

#6: Whiteout

This is a terrifying scenario that I hope you’ll never need a tip for. However, if you find yourself on a stretch of highway when the world goes blank and you can’t tell pavement from sky:

-See tips #1-3

-Low beams are your best friend

-Look for the tail lights in front of you, but don’t rely on them too heavily. Chances are that that driver can’t see any better than you can.

-Look ahead of the tail lights in front of you. This can mean the difference between observing a pile-up and contributing to one.

-Do. Not. Stop. Remember the tail lights? Whoever is behind you will not realize you aren’t actually moving. Even worse: if the snow keeps a-coming and you’re not a-moving, you could end up snowed in and trapped in a carbon monoxide box and that’s, well, not good.

#7: Just don’t.

Just don’t! If you’re unsure of your ability to drive in inclement weather, please stay at home. Call me, I’ll pick you up some Hot Cheetos and an Arizona Iced Tea while you ride out the storm.

Disclaimer: We take no responsibility for the repercussions incurred by following (or failing to follow) these tips. Stay safe!