Winter Driving: Tips for the Road
Everyone wants to reach their destination safely, but when the weather is bad, accidents occur more frequently. After following the tips from part one of this winter driving series, your car should be ready to take on less-than-favorable weather conditions. Now, the key is to maneuver your vehicle safely on icy, snow-packed roads.
Attentive driving is important no matter what the weather is, but it’s especially critical during a snowstorm. Remember these tips to remain alert behind the wheel:
- Don’t text and drive or engage in other distracting behaviors.
- Drive sober. Your motor skills and reaction time become impaired after drinking.
- Pull over to rest or trade drivers if you start to feel drowsy.
If possible, wait until conditions improve to venture out. If you have no choice, remember to slow down and increase your following distance. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on slick roads, so be extra cautious to avoid an accident.
Read the owner’s manual to determine if your car has antilock brakes. This feature prevents the wheels from locking up when braking in icy conditions. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, steady pressure to the brake pedal when you want to stop the car. If you don’t have this feature, you may need to pump the brakes when you feel the wheels locking up.
Never Use Cruise Control in Wet Weather
Cruise control is a useful tool for relieving muscle cramps in your leg and foot when traveling long distances. However, if the roads are wet, snowy, or icy, cruise control can worsen the effects of hydroplaning. Avoid using this feature and keep your speeds low to remain in full control of your vehicle in wintery conditions.
Share the Road with Snowplows
Snowplows may move slowly, but driving behind one gives you a safer road to travel on. However, don’t follow too closely or drive into a cloud of snow, which can reduce your visibility to zero, concealing vehicles or hazards ahead of you. If you decide to pass a plow, do so with care.
Stay Safe if You Get Stranded
Hopefully, your pre-trip preparations and safe driving techniques prevent you from becoming stranded. If you find yourself stuck in the snow, follow these safety tips:
- Move your emergency car kit from the trunk to the passenger area of your vehicle.
- Tie a brightly colored cloth to your car’s antenna to signal rescuers.
- Make sure the tailpipe is unblocked before turning on the engine for heat. Run the heater for about 10 minutes every hour.
- Wrap up in a coat and blankets to keep warm.
- Stay awake to reduce your vulnerability to cold-related health problems.