For many of us throughout the United States, we’re waving good-bye to warm weather. Now, we must prepare for winter travel with cold cars, snowy lanes, and freezing windows. While weather conditions around the country will vary throughout the season, we can all agree that driving irresponsibly for the weather is a recipe for roadside disaster. So, before you take that ski trip, refresh your driving skills with these winter tips.
Tip 1: Clear Ice and Snow from Your Car before Driving
Cars piled with foot-high snow and thick ice on windshields can do more than block your ability to get in your car and see; they also become driving hazards. Removing only small portions of
the snow and ice from your car and windows limits your visibility of the road, and you might do the same for the cars behind and beside you. As you gain speed, pieces of snow and ice can fly off your vehicle and hit the ones around you, potentially blocking other drivers’ views and causing an accident. So, do yourself and your fellow drivers a favor: always clean your car before you leave the driveway.
Tip 2: Slow Down
Slowing down on the road is an essential way to stay safe during your winter travels. Everything takes longer when you’re driving in winter weather—accelerating, braking, turning, and more. Never assume you can drive the same speed you would in warmer conditions. A rule of thumb is to reduce your speed by one-third on rainy roads and by one-half or more on snowy roads.
Tip 3: Maintain Longer Braking Distances
Controlling your braking speed is much more challenging when you have ice and snow to maneuver through. With less tire grip available than in warmer, drier weather conditions, a quick
brake tap can be harder to manipulate and recover from. So, always approach braking earlier than you normally would, and be sure to apply light pressure on the brakes to avoid skidding.
Tip 4: Correct a Slide Properly
If you find yourself sliding, you need to make sure you correct the slide with the right actions. When the rear of your car is sliding, you’ll want to take your foot off the accelerator. Don’t
give the car any gas. Gently turn the steering wheel into the direction of your slide. This action might feel counter-intuitive as you seek to correct the slide, but by doing so, you’ll help your car to realign in the direction you desire.
Tip 5: Carry Backup Tools
Sometimes you hit a patch of snow on the road that you just can’t seem to spin your wheels out of—no matter how hard you try. To avoid getting yourself stuck, make sure to travel in winter
weather with tools to help you get out of a bind: shovel and sand or litter. A shovel will help you dig your tires out of tall snow, and sand or litter will help you gain the traction you need
to drive away.
Ultimately, you always want to play it safe when driving in winter weather. By slowing down, being aware, and driving courteously, you’ll find you avoid roadside disasters for yourself,
your family, and those around you. You might arrive a little later than normal, but at least you will arrive safe and sound, and who can argue against that?
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