7 expert tips on driving in snowy winter conditions, getting unstuck

A Regina driving instructor has some advice for getting through the snow in unfavourable conditions.

'If you don’t know, don’t go,' on messy routes, driving instructor says

Driving instructor Ron Buddecke says if you are planning on going down a back alley that hasn’t been cleared yet, you might want to go find a different route. (CBC News)

All the snow that's piled up across Saskatchewan has created a bit of a headache for many drivers.

Ron Buddecke, a driving instructor from Regina, has some tips and tricks for getting through the snow in unfavourable conditions.

1. Recognize the capabilities of the vehicle you're driving (and your own capabilities as a driver).

Are you driving a four-by-four, or a small car? Do you have winter tires? Buddecke said both are worth consideration.

"Just because you see a path where somebody has gone doesn't mean you are going to be able to make it. It could've been a four-by-four that made the path," he said.
The City of Regina has said residential streets will not be cleared until Thursday. (CBC News)

If you had planned on going down a back alley that hasn't been cleared yet, you might want to go a different way.

Buddecke said his motto is, "If you don't know, don't go."

2. Turn off your traction control.

If you're stuck in the snow, Buddecke said Step 1 is turning off your vehicle's traction-control system, if it has one.

"That stops your tires from spinning and you'll have better traction," he said.

3. Don't spin your tires.

Buddecke recommends being gentle on the gas to prevent spinning your wheels if you are trying to get out of the snow. He said drivers can even press the brake when accelerating to slow down spinning tires.

"If you spin your tires, you sink into the snow. That forms ice and you're not going anywhere."

4. Use the rocking method.

Rock your car back and forth in order to get a pass going, Buddecke explained.

He said it's best to keep your tires straight and go back and forth instead of trying to turn sideways to get out.

5. Put something under your tires.

Buddecke recommends putting salt, kitty litter, sand, cardboard or even your car's floor mat under your tries to get traction.

He said he also owns traction pads which he purchased specifically for that purpose.

"Some are made of metal, some are made of plastic. They work really, really well."

6. Carry a shovel with you.

In winter driving conditions, carrying an emergency kit with a shovel in your car is a must, Buddecke said.
Many Regina residents have stepped up to help other drivers break free from the snow this week. (CBC News)

In his kit, he said he also has flares, blankets, a first-aid kit and candles.

7. Stay in your car.

If you are stuck on the road during a blizzard, especially in a remote or rural area, Buddecke said it's important not to leave your vehicle.

Make sure your exhaust is not plugged up and wait it out.

BONUS: It might be a little late for this year, but Buddecke said he's a "big believer" in studded tires and recommends that other Saskatchewan drivers look into purchasing them as well.

With files from CBC Radio's The Morning Edition