Safe Winter Driving
Winter driving can be one of the most dreaded parts of seasonal living. Ice, snow, blizzards, freezing rain, sleet and slush make winter one of the most hated seasons for driving, but thankfully, with a little winter-weather driving safety knowledge, winter driving can become less stress-inducing. Let’s examine some winter driving tips that can help you arrive safely at your destination.
Always Play it Safe
Whenever possible, stay home during inclement weather. If driving is unavoidable, wait for the snow plows to plow, salt and/or sand your road. Always allow extra time to arrive at your destination, and always be prepared for an accident. Carry the following in your car:
- Snow boots, a heavy coat, warm hats and gloves
- Extra socks
- Kitty litter (for traction)
- Hand warmers
- A first aid kit
Also, play it safe by practicing winter driving in an empty parking lot. A familiarity with how your car handles in winter weather will be one of your best assets to winter driving
While avoiding roads whenever possible and being prepared if you must leave your home are important tips, knowing how to handle your car in different driving situations is especially important for your safety in winter driving. Let’s look at winter driving by situation:
- Rear wheel skids: If you feel your rear wheels skid, take your foot off of the accelerator, and steer toward the direction you would like to go. Pump you brakes lightly or, if you have anti-lock brakes, steadily press the brakes. Correct your direction if you overcorrect until you regain control.
- Front wheel skid: If you feel your front wheels skid, take your foot off of the accelerator, shift to neutral, and maintain your position on your steering wheel. Do not steer. The wheels will automatically slow the vehicle as they skid sideways. When you have slowed, steer toward the direction you would like to drive, put the car in drive, and slowly accelerate.
- Stuck in snow: If you get stuck in snow, clears snow from your wheels and pour kitty litter under your wheels for traction. Turn your wheel from side to side, and slowly accelerate. If you do not break free, put the car in reverse, drive back, and put the care in drive again. Slowly accelerate again. If this does not break you free, reverse again, line your path with kitty litter, and try to slowly accelerate again. If you are on a hill and acceleration is impossible, attempt another route.
- Icy roads: If you drive on icy roads, make sure you allow three car lengths between you and the car in front of you. Also, drive slowly, and do not pass snow plows. Snow plow drivers have greatly decreased visibility, and the roads ahead of the plow are probably icier. Drive in low gear, and turn on your headlights for visibility to others. If you have four-wheel drive, continue to drive as carefully as other drivers – a four-wheel drive SUV, jeep, or truck will not guarantee a safe drive.
Winter driving may never be pleasurable, but if you practice some winter driving techniques, your winter driving may be safer and less stressful. A little winter driving knowledge can go a long way in making your winter driving as painless as possible.