Okay, it’s official – winter has come early. The snow has arrived, and that means it’s time to brush up on tips for safe winter driving and driving in snow. The roads can get slick and visibility can go way down, so it’s important to take it easy and stay safe. Since we know that driving in snow may not be something you do every day, we’ve got some tips to help you stay safe behind the wheel in the snow.
1. Don’t warm up the car in a closed space.
Should you want to warm up your car so it’s nice and toasty before you undertake your journey, don’t warm it up in a garage or another enclosed space. The fumes and carbon monoxide are not good for your health.
2. Check that your car is ready for the cold weather.
Make sure you have enough antifreeze. Check your defoggers, defroster, and windshield wipers to make sure they’re ready to roll. Also, check the tread on your tires and make sure that they’ll have enough traction to handle the new weather conditions. It’s really important to maintain the tires on your car.
3. Increase your following distance.
Roads that have been snowed on can be slick, so it takes more time to come to a safe and complete stop without sliding into the car in front of you. Give yourself more time to stop by doubling your following distance.
4. Don’t stop and go too fast.
Bring the car up to speed slowly. Your tires need time to gain traction on the wet roads, so don’t slam your foot on the gas when you’re ready to move. The same goes for stopping – give yourself lots of time to stop and apply the brake slowly, especially when you come to a stop sign or traffic light. Know how your car brakes and handles – and be extra careful if rented a vehicle and are unfamiliar with the car.
5. Drive slow in the snow.
Winter is not the time to be a speed demon. Take it easy and remember that everything – slowing down, stopping, turning, accelerating – takes longer when the roads are slippery. Slow it down.
To help you plan your commute, check out this Weather.com resource: Commuter Forecast.
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6. Brake right.
Keep your heel on the floor of the car and use the top of your foot to put steady, firm pressure on the brake. Don’t suddenly jam on the brakes – you could cause a skid.
7. Try not to come to a complete stop if you can avoid it.
It takes more force to get a car moving when it’s completely stopped then when its inching or rolling forward slowly. If you’re coming up to a light and you can slow down but keep rolling forward slowly, try to do that as long as you can.
8. Be careful on hills in the snow.
Okay, hills are tricky when it’s snowing. You don’t want to get stuck on a hill or roll backwards down a hill, so build up a little speed – safely – before you start climbing and let that speed take you up the hill. Don’t press hard on the gas and try to speed up when you’re going uphill. You might just set your tires spinning, which would be a little embarrassing. When you’re coming to the top of the hill, slow down a little and proceed carefully and slowly down the hill.
Also, don’t stop while going up a hill. Getting the car moving again going uphill on a slippery, snowy, or icy road is not going to be easy. Like we said, try to build up a little inertia before heading uphill.
9. Steer into a skid.
If you hit a slippery spot and start to skid, steer into it. Resist the urge to turn against the skid to correct – this could make it worse.
10. Wear your seatbelt.
Definitely buckle up. There are lots of reasons why you should wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts are designed to keep the driver safe by distributing the force of a crash to the strongest parts of the body. Make sure that you and all passengers are securely buckled.
11. Bonus tip: Don’t drive.
If you don’t absolutely have to go out when the weather’s bad, don’t. Try to reschedule or postpone any trips until the weather clears up and the roads are better. Staying home will keep you safe from the winter roads. If you have teenagers, this is especially important when it comes to keeping your teen driver safe – make sure they’re not out on the roads if the weather is bad.
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So, there you have it: ten tips for driving in snow (plus one bonus tip.) Don’t hurry, be careful, and postpone your trip if you can. Stay safe during the frigid winter months!
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