Safe Winter Driving Tips

September 27, 2017


Be prepared on the road during a winter storm. Have an emergency kit handy and make sure it includes jumper cables, flashlights, and flares. You should also consider what you will need if you get stuck in the snow. Think it through and make a plan.

Prepare your vehicle before hitting the road. You don’t want to end up in a sticky situation because your wiper blades aren’t working, or your tire doesn’t have enough tread. Check your vehicle regularly and perform routine maintenance. Fuel up! Keep your gas tank at least half way full to avoid freezing.

Take your time. The numbers make it clear that speeding and poor weather conditions are a dangerous combination. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, “Speeding was a factor for 17 percent of the fatalities on dry roads in 2015, 21 percent of those on wet roads, 34 percent when there was snow or slush on the road, and 43 percent of drivers involved in fatal crashes that occurred on roads with ice or frost.”

Accelerate and break slowly. If you move too fast, you risk sliding on slippery roads. Slow is safe.  You may think that you’re okay to drive faster if you have all wheel drive, but your stop time will still be significantly longer in poor conditions.

Increase your following time to the point that you are capable of breaking with ease. It takes a lot longer to stop when the roads are slick, and the cars in front of you are more likely to have a reason to stop suddenly. Don’t risk it.

Drive according to the weather. If the conditions involve low-visibility, ice, snow, or rain slow down and be alert to the traffic around you.

Always protect yourself and your passengers by wearing your seat belt and ensuring everyone is buckled before leaving. Follow all safety guidelines for your children’s’ car seats. The best way to avoid an accident, is to prevent one from happening.  Don’t drive drowsy. Stop to rest if you begin feeling fatigued. And it should go without saying, but don’t drink and drive. Be sure to find a designated driver before drinking alcohol.

Fog

If you hit a foggy area with low visibility, quickly switch your lights to the fog setting. It’s also a good idea to lightly tap the breaks a few times to warn any cars behind you to increase their following distance.

Rain

Again, slow down. Speeding during a rain storm can make you lose control and hydroplane. If you do hydroplane, remain calm and slow down (without slamming on the breaks) until you regain control. If you run through a thick puddle of water, feathering the breaks helps to air them out.

Other Tips

Don’t use your cruise control in winter weather conditions.

Always be wary and consider the possibility of black ice. It’s almost impossible to spot it until it’s too late.

Avoid hitting the breaks abruptly, or as you turn. Instead, lightly tap the break as needed, coasting as much as possible to keep from spinning out. You are more likely to lose control of your vehicle while breaking because the wheels stop and momentum can take over. If you do lose control, take your foot off the break and gas and turn the wheel in the direction of the skid if possible. The car will likely correct itself back into a straight position.