July 10, 2021

Ten Myths Busted about Winter Driving in NYC

By Jonathan Damashek

Posted in

Driving in New York City is challenging any time of year, especially when temperatures plummet and snow and ice cover the roads.

Many of the winter driving tips people grew up hearing simply aren’t true, especially with technology-changing vehicles and tires. Some of the information passed on from one generation to another could cause more danger on winter roads.

Recognizing these commonly held myths could make your driving experience safer.

Myth 1: Winter tires are needed only for snow and ice.

Truth: Winter tires help in any cold-weather environment.

While it is true that winter tires work well in slippery conditions, they perform best on cold pavement in general. Unlike summer and all-season tires that can turn hard in extremely cold weather, winter tires are designed to be pliable. They stick better to the pavement in frigid conditions, according to an accuweather.com article.

The newest winter tires provide flexibility that also improves braking and handling, in addition to traction, bridgestoneamericasmedia.com reports.

Myth 2: All-wheel-drive vehicles handle every problem on snowy roads.

Truth: All wheel drive vehicles can help, but a good tire grip is key.

Modern vehicles can give motorists a better margin for driving errors because they split the grip between four tires instead of two, but that doesn’t guarantee safer driving on snow and ice. They can create a false sense of security by making them assume the vehicle is better for stopping and turning corners, Bridgestone Winter Driving School Director Mark Cox said.

According to Cox, that simply isn’t the case, who said tire grip is really what makes the difference for stopping and making turns.

Myth 3: All-season tires work well in the winter too.

Truth: All-season tires do not perform as well as winter tires.

Running all-season tires on your vehicle throughout the year is a compromise. According to Bridgestone, the tires are made to give a medium performance in the summer and winter.

All-season tires aren’t as pliable as winter tires during bitterly cold weather and don’t give vehicles the best traction possible. It could take 30 to 40% more distance to stop in harsh conditions with all-season tires than winter tires, according to a globeandmail.com article.

Myth 4: Letting some air out of your tires gives them better traction on ice.

Truth: You should never operate a car with underinflated tires, no matter what season.

According to Bridgestone, this legend is exactly the opposite of reality because under-inflated tires lose their performance, effectiveness, and safety and can be damaged in winter weather.

In fact, falling temperatures can cause your tires to lose air, requiring you to make sure they are properly inflated to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended rate, which can be found on the inside of the door.

Myth 5: You can stop quicker by locking up the tires.

Truth: Locking up the tires can impede how well you can control steering the vehicle.

Locking up the brakes to keep the tires from turning can stop you on snow, especially if you have a newer vehicle with a modern anti-lock brake system. But it can also cause you to lose control of the steering.

Keep your foot on the brake pedal if your car has an ABS. If not, pump the brakes gently. Braking hard with anti-lock brakes will make the skid worse. Bridgestone suggests braking and accelerating slower than normal and avoiding slamming on the brakes.

Myth 6: When you run into black ice, you can no longer control your vehicle.

Truth: As you slow down on black ice, your tires will grip imperfections in the road and help you regain control.

When the vehicle starts sliding, keep your eyes in the direction, you need to go and lightly grip the steering wheel instead of white-knuckling it. When you begin to decelerate, you will slowly regain control as the tires grip imperfections in the snow or ice on the road.

Gently control the steering wheel to keep it from spinning. Keep in mind that bridges and overpasses are likely to freeze first.

Myth 7: Big tire treads mean better traction in snow and ice.

Truth: Shallower treads can push water, ice, and snow down off the tire, improving grip on the road.

Those wide treads might look macho, but a new technology for winter tires is based on shallower treads with grooves spaced closely together to remove the water film caused when tires force down ice and snow.

Myth 8: Tires with a snowflake symbol work equally well in winter weather.

Truth: Not all tires marked with a snowflake symbol work as well as others.

Manufacturers must show that tires meet minimum standards to put a snowflake logo on them, signifying winter tires. However, tests show that all winter tires don’t perform the same. Do your research to find the best ones for your vehicle.

Myth 9: Warming up your car makes it run better in the bitter cold.

Truth: New technology allows car engines to warm up while driving. They don’t need to heat up before driving, even in bitter temperatures.

Letting your car idle might have been a good idea 30 or more years ago when most vehicles had a carburetor.

Modern cars are equipped with electronic fuel injection that uses sensors to supply the engine with the right mix of air and fuel, making the need to warm up engines irrelevant, according to a washingtonpost.com article. The engine will warm up faster while the car is being driven.

Myth 10: Letting a car idle helps it run more efficiently in cold weather.

Truth: You don’t need to let your car run idle in cold weather. Turn it off when not driving it.

Tests show a five-minute warmup increased fuel consumption by seven to 14%, and a 10-minute warmup took 12% to 19% more fuel. And the bigger the engine and longer the warmup, the more fuel that was burned without traveling, the washingtonpost.com article shows.

Myth 11: Winter car accidents in New York are an “act of God,” and you can’t get compensation.

Truth: You can recover damages for any accident caused by negligence at any time of year.

While the weather itself may be an “act of God,” you can still get compensation for a car accident in winter weather. Other cars around you should be giving you plenty of distance and driving at a safe speed. If they drive unsafely and cause a wreck, they will owe you for any damages they cause.

Myth 12: You don’t need a lawyer after a winter weather car accident.

Truth: You should always contact an attorney after a crash.

You shouldn’t have to shoulder all the consequences of a wreck you didn’t cause. Suppose you are involved in a motor vehicle crash in New York City during the winter or any time of year.

In that case, you should reach out to a car accident attorney who can guide you through submitting an insurance claim so that you can get a car accident settlement to cover your losses.

HKD Can Help With a Winter Weather Wreck

Winter is the most difficult season for driving in New York City. Even if you are well prepared for winter driving, other drivers may not be. So, drive slowly and defensively. If you are injured in a car accident or truck accident caused by another driver’s disregard for winter driving conditions, talk to a personal injury attorney about your legal options.

Call Hecht, Kleeger & Damashek P.C. at 212-490-5700 or use our contact form for a free consultation. There’s no fee unless we win.