Common Myths About Driving in Dangerous Weather

You never know where you'll be when severe weather strikes. You could even be in your car. So, when driving gets hazardous, we rely on habit, and tried and true techniques. But how true are they?

Myth #1: You Can Dodge an Oncoming Tornado in Your Car

Let's say you're driving and encounter a tornado. The first reaction of many people is amazement at nature's fury. But then reality sets in, maybe panic. People need to make a split-second decision about what to do. Too often they decide they can outrun the tornado in their car. But automotive expert and former race car driver Lauren Fix says that is pure myth.


"Tornadoes change direction without any notice and you don't know what the road in front of you is gonna look like," Fix said. "There could be debris. You could have a roadway that's blocked. Where are you gonna go?"

"But I've seen this," ABC News' Sam Champion said. "I've seen people in cars out-drive tornadoes."

"You've seen the storm chasers," Fix replied. "These people are professionals and this is not something the average driver should even attempt."

The best advice, Fix said, is "if you see a tornado, find shelter immediately. Your car is a 4,000 pound toy and it can be tossed at anywhere, anytime."

Myth #2: Steer into the Skid

The winter season is filled with myths about snow, ice and freezing temperatures. So, what better place to get to the cold hard truth than about 9,000 feet up in the Colorado Rockies, where places like Steamboat Springs can get 30 feet of snow in a winter season, and it rarely gets above freezing.

That's great for the ski conditions, but for driving ... well, that's something completely different, as Mark Cox of the Bridgestone Winter Driving School knows firsthand.

"If you start to skid on the ice or snow, just realize that it's not the end of the world," he said. "First and foremost, don't panic."

Normally, Cox said, people react by letting go of the steering wheel, yanking on it or jamming on the brakes. "None of these things helps you in correcting a skid," he said.

We're often told to steer into a skid. But is that the right thing to do?

Let's say you turn a corner in the snow or ice, and the car skids. You realize the front end is turning to the right. Many people would believe 'steering into the skid' means turning the car to the right ... big mistake! This is an over-steering situation in which the skid actually happened because the rear wheels skidded to the left. So, if you were to steer into the skid, you'd be steering to the left. But this can get confusing, so Cox tells students, instead of steering into the skid, "Look in the direction that you'd rather have the car be going, and steer that way."

CLICK HERE to see an explanatory diagram from the Bridgestone Winter Driving School.

Myth #3: Always Warm Up Your Car

Another winter driving myth: always warm up the car. But this one simply isn't true. Cox explains that "modern cars deal really well with cold. And you can start it up pretty quickly, and take off right away, within thirty seconds, and it's fine."

In fact, experts say idling the car wastes gas, and that's bad for the environment.

  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...