Tips for Safe Winter Driving
Severe weather can be both frightening and dangerous for automobile travel. Motorists should know the safety rules for dealing with winter road emergencies. Following are a few tips that will help you drive and stay safe on snow and ice.
Make sure your tires are properly inflated, and never mix radial tires with other types. Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface. Watch weather reports prior to a long-distance drive or before driving to isolated areas. Delay trips when especially bad weather is expected. If you must leave, let others know your route, destination, and estimated time of arrival.
All-Wheel-Drive (AWD) vehicles help you turn on snowy roads…a little. However, the difference is a small fraction of that offered by winter tires or even brand-new all-season tires. Also, since AWD can do nothing to help you stop, be aware that it creates a false sense of security.
Be sure your windshield wipers are in good shape. Those who expect serious snow should fit wiper blades designed for winter driving. Clean the inside of your windows thoroughly. Apply a water-shedding material to the outside. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid. Run the air-conditioner on the “fresh air” option, even if you must use the “hot” setting to remove condensation and frost from the interior of windows. Many cars automatically do this when you choose the defrost setting.
Keep at least half a tank of gasoline in your vehicle at all times. Pack a cellular phone with emergency numbers, such as Triple A if you’re a member, in addition to blankets, gloves, hats, food, water and any needed medication in your vehicle. If you become snow-bound, stay with your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and makes it easier to rescuers to locate you. Don’t try to walk in a severe storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.
Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry, and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning…nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach
the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible.
The biggest tip of all for driving in adverse conditions is to stay home! If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you drive well in snow, not everyone else can. Don’t tempt fate. If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.