Safe Tips for Driving on Ice and Snow
Driving in winter can be scary and dangerous, especially if you don’t know the proper way to handle these conditions. By following these safety tips, you can help better prepare yourself for inclement weather and the snow and icy conditions that it brings.
Reduce Your Speed
The most important thing to remember is to watch your speed when driving in snow or on icy roads. Posted speed limits are for ideal, dry conditions. Reducing your speed will give you more time to react if the vehicle in front of you stops suddenly or if you hit a patch of ice. High speed makes it easy to lose control and also more difficult to stop.
Only Drive If Necessary
If you don’t have to drive on icy roads, don’t. If your trip can wait until the threat of ice and snow passes, you’ll lower your chances of an accident or breaking down. Even if you are comfortable driving in these conditions, other drivers may not be and their mistakes can lead to accidents that you can’t foresee.
Extend Your Following Distance
Following distance on dry pavement is three to four seconds but should be increased to eight to ten seconds in winter conditions. This small increased margin will provide you much-needed distance if you have to stop suddenly.
Don’t Panic If You Start to Skid
If you hit ice and start to slide or fishtail, don’t panic. It can be scary but a small skid can be easily corrected if you know what to do. If you start to skid, don’t take your foot off the gas or make any sudden movements. Steer in the direction you want to go but not too far, otherwise, you’ll need to overcorrect to straighten out your vehicle.
Clear Your Vehicle of Snow and Ice
Before any trip, clear your windshield of any snow or ice. If you live somewhere that snow can be inches deep on your vehicle, use a snow brush to make sure you get everything off of your car and windshield. Never drive with an icy windshield, always make sure to fully defrost your front, side and back windows.
Don’t Pass a Snowplow
While it may be frustrating to drive behind a snowplow, they are there to keep the roads clear for you. The road ahead may be unsafe to drive, especially if you are not equipped with chains.
Carry Chains At All Times
If you live somewhere that it snows regularly and do not own a four-wheel drive, a good set of chains is a necessity. Keep them in your vehicle for when you really need them, and you won’t be stuck buying them for outrageous prices roadside after a snowstorm.
The main thing to remember about driving in snow and ice is to be prepared. Watch the weather along your entire route, from start to finish, to ensure you aren’t surprised by inclement weather. Remember that icy road accidents happen fast and can involve multiple cars. Stay alert and be aware of your surroundings. And most importantly, if you don’t have to drive in these conditions, stay home and wait them out.