Severe winter storms have already hit parts of the country and according to weather forecasts, Mother Nature isn’t going to let up. If you have to be out on the road during or after a winter storm, make sure you adhere to the following 5 winter driving tips listed below to remain safe during the upcoming chilly months.
Tip #1: Give Yourself Plenty of Time
A week before Christmas, we listed a few ways to stay safe during the winter holidays. One of the first things we mentioned was to give yourself enough time to run errands or arrive at your destination by leaving 45 minutes earlier than usual since traffic during the winter holidays is dangerous.
This same tip applies when driving through the snow and ice. Take your time on the roads and don’t push your luck. Roads covered in snow and ice are unpredictable especially if drivers are traveling at normal speeds. Giving yourself extra time to travel will decrease the temptation of driving faster than you should.
Tip #2: Slow Down And Keep Your Distance
Maintaining the posted speed limit isn’t too wise if there’s snow or ice on the roads. Those speed limits are in the context of favorable road conditions. Significantly lower your driving speed while retaining a minimum distance of three car lengths.
If you get stuck behind an 18-wheeler or other freight-carrying vehicles, increase your distance to five car lengths. Don’t forget to turn your headlights on even during the day as an extra safety precaution so other drivers can see you through the sleet and snow.
Tip #3: Use a Lower Gear for Traction
Most accidents during winter storms occur when accelerating or braking. In order to prevent slamming on the brakes because you accelerated too quickly, use a lower gear. Driving in low gear allows your vehicle to gain better traction when the road is covered in snow and ice. Additionally, it’s also a good idea never to use cruise control.
Tip #4: Don’t Overreact If Your Wheels Lock Up
If you happen to lose control of your vehicle because the front or rear wheels lock up, it’s important that you remember not to make any sudden maneuvers or overreact. Use the following guidelines to help escape danger should you lose control:
- Rear wheels lock up: Remove your foot from the accelerator, turn your wheel in the direction that you want your front wheels to go, and gently pump the brakes until your car corrects itself.
- Front wheels lock up: Let the steering wheel freely turn, remove your foot from the accelerator, shift into neutral and slowly start to take control of the wheel once the vehicle begins to slow down.
Tip #5: Wipe Your Car Completely Free of Snow
This tip is more for the safety of all the other drivers on the road. If a winter storm has finally let up and you need to travel, make sure you completely wipe off all the snow on your vehicle. Turn your car on, crank up the defroster and remove every bit of snow and ice from your hood, trunk, and roof of your car.
Although only your front and back windshields technically need to be free of snow in order for you to drive safely, the last thing you want is for a chunk of snow to fly off your roof and possibly endanger someone else. Thoroughly clean off all snow from your vehicle before heading out on the road.