Safe Winter Driving Tips
The key to winter driving is to adjust your driving behavior to suit the conditions on the road. Winter road conditions are much harder to predict than during the other seasons, and cause driving to be much more dangerous.
Ice seen and unseen, can cause cars to careen out of control, snow and slush can impair handling and stopping of cars. Snow, blowing, falling or accumulated on your car can block the view. Chunks of flying snow from other vehicles can cause accidents and damage. Speeds need to be considered as well since stopping will be a longer and more dangerous process on any road that is not clean and dry. In the winter we often have ice sand and salt on the roads which increase stop times and distances.
Let’s review some of the steps for safe winter driving:
- Get 4 snow tires.
- Speed: Reduce your speed whenever the conditions are not clear and dry. Never make sudden acceleration/decelerations when roads are snow covered or icy. Don’t’ turn the wheel suddenly either. Look far ahead and anticipate what you need to do to adjust your driving speed. Taking your foot off the gas can slow you down.
- Changing Lanes: Be careful as there is often a ridge of snow and ice that can pull your car out of control. If you are changing lanes look for a clear, less obstructed place. Signal well ahead of time and maintaining a steady speed and firm grip on the wheel proceed.
- Clear your car off: So many accidents occur due to the inability of drivers to see what’s around them.
- Stay well back from ploughs and sanders. They can throw up chunks of gravel and spray and will reduce your ability to see. If you are stuck behind a chevron on the highway consider yourself to be lucky enough to have the freshly cleared road to drive on.
- Space: Maintain a safe following distance from cars ahead of you. Remember your stop distances can be 5 or 6 times the distance in the summer.
- Road Conditions: Icy patches are treacherous. Once you are on black or clear ice driving experts recommend you take your foot off the gas, DO NOT brake. Look where you want to go, and steer gently to straighten your car in that direction. Your momentum will carry you. If you are trying to go up a hill with ice, or starting on an icy patch put your car in a lower gear and accelerate smoothly and steadily.
- Be particularly cautious at all intersections, taking into account that cars may not be able to stop for the red light.