6 Dos and Don’ts for Driving on Snow and Ice
How to Drive in Winter Weather
Blowing snow. Low visibility. Icy conditions. Winter calls on drivers to use skills that just aren’t needed throughout the rest of the year. So, brush up on yours with these tactics and tips. Because, even if you’re an expert winter driver, plenty of other people out there are not.
1.Don’t just jump in the car and go. First things first, make sure you and your car are ready for the conditions ahead. You should be well-rested and focused. Your car (preferably front-wheel or four-wheel drive) should have a full tank of gas, working windshield wipers, the right tires and the necessary emergency supplies. Completely clean off and defrost the windshield and windows, turn on your lights for visibility and buckle up.
2.Do start, stop and steer steadily. Flooring it, slamming on the brakes and jerking the steering wheel wildly can all lead to trouble. Instead, do everything gradually. Accelerate slowly so your wheels don’t spin out. Brake early and gently to maintain control of the vehicle. Finally, make slow, moderate adjustments to the steering wheel when you need to change lanes or make a turn.
3.Don’t use the cruise control. Even if your car is skidding, your cruise control may attempt to maintain a constant speed, potentially accelerating the vehicle and spinning the wheels as you’re trying to regain control. Hitting the brakes to deactivate the cruise control could cause further harm.
4.Do let off the accelerator if your car starts to skid. We know it’s easy to panic, but try to remain calm and, once you feel your tires regain traction, slowly turn the steering wheel in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. Be prepared to counter-steer and stay off both the gas and the brake until you have control of the vehicle again.
5.Don’t follow too closely. Increase the space you leave between you and other vehicles both when following another car and pulling over in front of one after passing it, especially snowplows or large trucks. You also need more lead time when pulling out in front of a car.
6.Do consider the terrain. When driving in winter weather, certain areas signal the need for greater caution. These include bridges and overpasses, which can freeze over before other parts of the road, freeway on- and off-ramps that snowplows may have skipped and any area that doesn’t receive direct sunlight and may have black ice.
Above all, remember the most basic tenet of driving in any type of inclement weather: Give yourself ample time to respond. So, slow down. Or, just stay home, if you can. Because, even with careful driving and these tips, something could still happen. And, staying home sure beats being stuck in a snowy ditch!