Seven tips to stay safe on winter roads

January 14, 2015

According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, roughly 115 people per day die in vehicle crashes in the U. S. Each winter, snowfall compounds hazardous road conditions, increasing the risk of accidents.
It’s important to know how to drive when weather conditions are dangerous. It’s also smart to equip your vehicle to reduce its risk of slipping and sliding on icy, snowy roads. Here are some tips to follow:
Winter Conditions Video
For more good advice on being a safe driver in winter conditions, watch this video.
  1. Limit time spent driving in snow. Avoid driving during snowstorms or directly after, whenever possible. Snow not only makes roads slick, but falling flakes can impair driver visibility and reduce response time. Wait until road crews have treated and plowed roads before venturing out.
  2. Be sure you can see clearly. Clear off snow and ice. Take the time to thoroughly scrape the windows and brush snow off your entire car, including the roof. It’s not just a courtesy; it’s the law in some states. Visibility is critical, and flying chunks of snow and ice pose a danger. Think of those driving behind you. Imagine seeing a sheet of snow coming off the car ahead.
  3. Accelerate and drive slowly. Traveling at a high speed will increase the risk of accidents. Go easy on the gas to avoid wheel spin. Reduce your speed to lessen the likelihood of a skid. It can be more difficult to stop or maneuver around a potential obstacle when conditions are less than ideal. Use lower gears when decelerating to allow the engine to slow the car.
  4. Leave enough room between you and other drivers. Tailgating is responsible for many accidents, even when there is no snow on the ground. On a dry road, allow 2 or 3 seconds of stopping distance between your vehicle and the one ahead. In slick conditions, increase that interval to 4 seconds or more, depending on the ugliness outside.
  5. Be aware of black ice. Black ice gets its name from its actual invisibility. It’s so thin and hard to see, it just looks like the black asphalt of the road. Black ice tends to form in areas that have had snow or ice melt, which then may refreeze at night when the temperature drops. Be extra cautious on turns and on highway exit and entrance ramps, where black ice frequently forms.
  6. Steer your car into the skid. Remain calm. Don’t panic and jam on the brakes if your car starts to skid. Slamming on the brakes will only exacerbate the skid. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator, allowing the car to naturally slow down as you turn your wheels into the direction the car is skidding. This should help straighten the car and get you back on track.
  7. Invest in snow tires. If you live in an especially snowy climate and do a lot of driving, it would be wise to purchase snow tires. Snow tires, also called winter tires, have special tread patterns that offer better traction in snow and ice.

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