Winter Driving Tips
Trying to travel in snowy conditions can be a scary experience, especially if you know first hand what it feels like to hit your breaks and slide closer and closer to the bumper in front of you at a stoplight. As much as we would like to stay in the comfort of our homes whenever snow strikes, the reality is that we have commitments and places to be. While it may be impossible to completely avoid driving in sub-par conditions, there are things you can do to reduce your chances of being involved in a weather-related accident.
1. Give Yourself More Time to Stop
From the moment your alarm goes off, you may feel like you only have a few minutes to get dressed, eat, and get out the door, but don’t let this rushed feeling follow you into your vehicle. When you feel short on time you are more likely to drive faster than the weather permits. Give yourself extra space between you and the vehicle ahead to make sure you have enough time and room to come to a complete stop if needed.
2. Have Patience at Intersections and Accelerate Slowly
Use extreme caution when crossing intersections. Often times intersections have low traction due to the build-up of ice. As drivers wait for their opportunity to cross, the exhaust from their vehicle melts the snow and once they leave, the cold temperatures turn that melted snow into ice, making it difficult to come to a stop and to start moving again. When you decide the time is right, make sure you accelerate slowly. It takes time to get vehicles in motion, and if you see oncoming traffic you may be tempted to step on the gas, but this only makes your tires spin instead of propelling you forward.
If you are unsure whether you have enough time to safely cross the road, make sure you err on the side of caution and wait until there is enough distance between you and oncoming traffic before you make your move.
3. Be Visible to Other Drivers
Driving with your headlights on can highly increase your chances of being seen during a snowstorm, even during the day. When bad weather hits, remember to use your headlights so that you can be seen by other drivers, and see oncoming obstacles sooner.
4. Know How to Handle Skids
No matter how much we hate it, sooner or later you will hit a slippery spot and find yourself starting to lose traction and go into a skid. While this is a scary feeling, these are the times when you need to be the most composed. Your first instinct may be to hit your breaks, but unfortunately, this can make the situation worse. If for some reason you feel your rear end start to slide, here is what you should do:
- Ease off the gas
- Do NOT jam on your breaks
- Turn your wheel in the direction you want to be going
- Example: if your back-end starts sliding out to the right, turn your wheel to the right and ease off the gas. As you regain traction, calmly steer back in the original direction.
These are just a few things you can do to keep your vehicle and yourself out of harm’s way. The most important thing is to use caution when traveling in slippery conditions and always wear your seat belt. If you are not sure whether you should travel, then listen to that voice in your head and stay inside until conditions improve.