Safe Winter Driving With the GMC Terrain
Even though winter brings about changes in the weather and driving conditions, one thing doesn’t change: we still need to get our families around town safely. For some of you, the change in temperature also means family road trips to winter wonderlands and ski vacations. Whether you’re driving the carpool or traveling through snow country, changing the way your drive in the winter is crucial for your safety.
If you live in a milder climate (like me) you don’t get much opportunity to drive in winter conditions. My lack of experience and fear of getting in an accident has kept me from taking our family on winter trips to ski or play in the snow. I’m sorry to admit my two younger sons have never seen real snow on the ground! Thanks to GMC and their Terrain Winter Driving Event, I’m thinking this might be our year to make some snow-filled memories.
Getting Behind the Wheel of the GMC Terrain
A few weeks ago I traveled to Steamboat Springs, Colorado to drive the GMC Terrain and experience winter driving. For the first time in about a decade, I drove across snow-covered roads and thanks to the technology and advances made to their cars, the folks at GM helped me feel confident and competent. General Motors put the best technology available into their Terrain to make driving in snow and ice as safe as possible.
We piled into our assigned cars for the day and drove through beautiful Downtown Steamboat Springs in search of snow-covered roads to test the Terrain. Since this area of Colorado hadn’t experienced much recent snow, we had to travel a bit farther than anticipated, but we found a snow-covered, sparsely traveled road for our experience.
As I climbed into the driver’s seat, I tried to hide my nervous feelings, but I couldn’t help warning the others in the car I hadn’t driven in these conditions in what seemed like forever. I also shared with everyone my fear of driving my family up to the snow. Our trained, professional driver put me and the GMC Terrain through our paces. I drove down the road and quickly felt comfortable and self-assured behind the wheel –much like I feel driving my own car at home.
What I learned (some of these tips apply for all-weather driving as well):
- Tires are key – a pair of good snow tires on your car and chains in your trunk makes you prepared for winter conditions. Tires are your “single most important tool for successful winter driving”.
- Snow sticks to snow. If you are traveling behind someone on a snow-covered road, and can see the treads of their tires, WATCH OUT! Those tires are not sticking to the snow on the road and have a potential to skid.
- Know your car – if possible, take your care out where you won’t hurt anyone or anything and stomp on the brakes. See what happens and feel what it’s like.
- Trust the technology that has been invented and perfected to keep you safe. If you have an ABS (anti-lock braking system) in your car, never pump the brakes. Step on your brake pedal solidly and let the automatic system do the work for you. You can’t pump your brake as fast as what your car is programmed to do automatically.
- When steering your wheel, “feed” the wheel, don’t pull it. You have more control this way.
- Always keep your hands at 3:00 and 9:00 –not 10:00 and 2:00 as you may have learned in the past.
- Never cross your arms - you lose control this way.
Now that I’m home, I’m trying to keep my hands where they belong and steer my car differently to be as safe as possible, even though our roads are clear. I grew more impressed by and attached to the GMC Terrain as I drove it. When my turn ended, I reluctantly turned the keys over to the next driver.
These features of the GMC Terrain assured me I could handle the conditions, as well as offered everyday driving security:
- StabiliTrak electronic stability control system with traction control – this feature is required on a vehicles manufactured after September 2011, but the quality and performance can vary greatly according to each manufacturer and particular vehicle. The StabiliTrak in the Terrain monitors each wheel individually, feeding information to the system to perform necessary adjustments.
- Lane departure warning – a feature that can be turned on and off as necessary, I activated this as I drove, due to the narrow road and my keeping to the center, as advised by our driver. I liked that this system would alert me if I strayed into another lane accidently.
- Camera-based technology – a camera mounted discreetly inside the vehicle’s windshield acts as another set of human eyes, monitoring the behavior of traffic and alerts the driver of potential problems. This system can be deactivated, which would be wise in certain conditions such as bumper-to bumper traffic when proximity is closer than normal. It also can be helpful to alert a driver they may need to change their driving habits to stay out of dangerous situations.
- Blue-tooth capabilities with steering wheel controls – there is nothing more frightening to me than seeing a driver paying more attention to their phone than to the road in front of them or drivers around them.
- Rear camera – I’ve backed over a rip-stick and a friend backed over a bike in the past. We’re both grateful the items weren’t being used by our children at the time. (Shudder.)
I’ll Go to the Snow -Thanks to GM
I don’t own a GMC Terrain, but I learned enough from this trip to feel confident behind the wheel of my own minivan. Even though I’d much rather drive the Terrain for our inaugural snow adventure with my family, we’re going to go for it and make the journey with the tools we have available to us (plus a set of really good tires and some chains).
I’m declaring 2012 as the year for taking my kids to the snow! Thank you to everyone at the GMC Terrain Winter Driving Event who gave me valuable tips and training to keep and pass along. Winter Wonderland, here we come!
When Eileen Calandro isn’t playing taxi driver to her three sons, she is the Chief Mom Connector of Mom Central. You can read about her other adventures in parenting and driving on her personal blog at calandroclan.com and connect with her on twitter at @MomCentralChat and @calandro5.