Winter Driving Tips
Winter weather makes driving extremely difficult. Icy roads, white-out snow storms, and heavy winds provide even more dangers to commuters. While it is best to avoid driving in the winter whenever possible, below is a compilation of winter driving tips from The Weather Channel and AAA Insurance.
First things first: vehicle maintenance. Keeping your vehicle in good shape will help prevent needless accidents. Make sure to keep your gas tank at least half full. Gas lines can freeze if the tank falls below half full and it is expensive to repair. Also, it is important to keep your tires properly inflated and do not mix radial tires with other types of tires.
One of the most prominent threats of winter weather is slippery roads. Maneuvering slick road conditions can be a challenge. To help prevent your vehicle from sliding, never use cruise control in slippery conditions such as icy or wet roads. Cruise control increases your vehicle’s chances of sliding. Also, make sure to accelerate and decelerate slowly. Rapid change in speed also increases your chance for sliding uncontrollably.
When driving in snowy conditions, give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. You will have to drive much slower in snowy weather and your travel time will increase. Allow yourself plenty of room between your car and the vehicle ahead. Increase your following distance significantly in the winter as it takes much longer to come to a complete stop. Use lower gears to increase traction and avoid stopping on hills.
In the event your rear wheels skid, take your foot off of the accelerator and turn into the skid. That means if your rear wheels are skidding to your left, turn the wheel to your left. Careful not to overcompensate, however, as that can lead to additional sliding. Gently turn the wheel to get out of the slide.
If your front wheels skid, release the gas pedal and put the vehicle into “neutral.” Do not attempt to steer the vehicle right away. As the wheels skid sideways, turn the wheel into the direction you want to go, shift the vehicle’s transmission back into “drive,” and slowly accelerate.
Finally, always be prepared for an emergency. Keep your car stocked with a cellular phone, blankets, a flashlight, sand, a shovel, and an emergency kit. If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels as that only digs your car deeper into the snow. Put sand, gravel, kitty litter, or anything gritty in the pathway of the wheels to help gain traction. Shovel the snow away from the wheels. Then, gently accelerate to try to get the vehicle moving. If you are still stuck, call the police for help and remain in your vehicle. Do not try walking in a severe storm. Make sure your exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow or mud since that can lead to carbon monoxide build up in the interior of the vehicle.