5 Tips for Winter Driving

As seasons change, it’s always a good idea to review winter driving tips to stay safe on the roads for work and personal travel. Although we have had a mild winter so far in the mid-west, we all know that can change in a heartbeat. So we must not forget the skills or maybe the mishaps we have experienced from past winters. While winter driving is dangerous in at itself, speed is the main reason “things happen” on the road. Snow, ice, and speed do not lead to a good outcome on our travels during the winter. 

drive prepared for the worst

Slowing down, increased following distance, gradual steering and braking are all things we can do to prevent the big one. Stay safe by remembering these easy tips: 

1. Plan Ahead before you leave:

Before you even leave the house, check the weather and be aware of any warnings for current or future conditions along your route. Downloading a weather app to your smart phone will also allow you to receive updates and warnings should the conditions change. Your state’s Department of Transportation will also update their sites for any issues. Check road conditions and find out if there are any closures. Keep your radio tuned to a local station that may offer updates on roads or weather as well. 

2. Safe Stop on an Icy Road:

A safe stop on an icy road can be a tricky thing to do. One never knows really how much time it will take the type of vehicle you are driving to stop. Stopping a semi is very different than stopping a personal vehicle, therefore you should anticipate the stop by slowing down gradually ahead of the intersection regardless of what you are driving. Allow more time to stop safely during winter driving conditions. This is where your vehicle’s speed comes in, because if you are going too fast, you will slide right through the intersection.

3. be Prepared to Change lanes on side streets or interstates:

Again, plan ahead for a lane change maneuver. Check all your mirrors, check your blind spots, even if you have one of those fancy schmancy blind spot checkers, heck it might be covered on slush or snow! Put on your turn signal well in advance of your lane change so everybody around you knows you are making a change. Use the smallest amount of steering, take a long gradual line, and hold the wheel firmly. Slush, snow, and or ice may be built up between lanes. No sudden steering adjustments using a light foot on the gas.

Not everyone can slip on down to Tybee Beach and avoid all of the snow, ice, and freezing rain Mother Nature throws at us every year. sometimes we forget that getting from point A to point B is more difficult than we imagine. – Rich Rothenbach, Safety & Compliance 

4. Be aware of Black Ice:

The term black ice doesn’t really mean the ice is black. Black ice is a thin sheet of clear ice on the roadway taking on the color of the road which is usually black. Black ice is prevalent on bridges and overpasses where any moisture can freeze more quickly with no warmth from the ground to keep it from doing so. Hitting black ice can cause an unexpected skid in the blink of an eye.

Say it’s 30 degrees and raining, you’re out on the road going to Nicks Pilates class. You notice at first all the spray coming off the back of the car in front of you, but it doesn’t really bother you because you have increased your following distance. Then down the road a mile or two you notice the car ahead of you no longer has road spray. Why you ask? That road is freezing, you have black ice forming on the roadway. When it’s raining or sleeting and you do not see road spray, you have ice on the road. Just a little “Pro Tip” to pass along to your family members.

5. remember driver’s ed If you are in a skid:

So, you have totally ignored the above winter driving tips, and are ready to go speeding off to work because you are late, and your vehicle starts to skid. Two things you must remember if does start to skid, per your high school Driver’s Ed Instructor:

  1. Avoid using your brakes
  2. Steer in the direction the back of the car is going. If the rear of the car goes to the right, then steer to the right.

Most cars now have anti-lock brakes so if you must apply brakes, light constant pressure on the brake pedal is recommended and let the anti-lock system do it’s thing. If the rear of the car is kicking out to the right, then turn the wheel slightly in that direction until traction is regained and the vehicle straightens out. Then steer back gradually to get back on the right track. One more time, the speed you are traveling will determine the severity of the skid.

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