More than 70% of the roads in the United States experience snowy conditions at some point in the winter. However, when it comes to driving in winter weather, many drivers forget the basics.
Keeping yourself calm and driving with appropriate maneuvers can help you reach your destination safely. Here are five tips on how to drive in the winter, safely.
1. Decrease Your Speed
Driving in the snow and ice require a slower speed. When road conditions are wet or icy, it is hard for the tires to get traction from the road surface. This makes controlling the car more difficult and dangerous.
Hitting a patch of ice going 65 miles per hour will have a higher risk of injury and vehicle damage than driving on ice at 40 miles per hour.
If you do slip on ice, it is also important to remember to stop pressing the gas, but do not push the brakes. This can cause you to spin or lose control of the car completely.
Keep a firm grip on the wheel and wait to feel a more secure grip before pushing on the gas again.
2. Leave Space
Rather than leaving the customary space between vehicles during a storm, leave a little extra room.
Having to stop quickly is harder on wet and snowy roads. Vehicles will slide if the road is slippery, requiring that extra space to come to a stop or moving when another vehicle loses control.
It is also helpful to have space so you can more clearly see your surroundings better.
Don’t only watch the cars immediately surrounding you; watch everywhere so you can anticipate slippery spots, hazards in the road, or traffic coming to stop up ahead.
3. Plan for Emergencies
Occasionally, drivers will slide off the road or get stranded if their car gets stuck in a snowbank. Having some emergency supplies in the car can help a lot.
Keep snow chains and tow straps in your trunk. Always have extra water, snacks, and a blanket or two in the car.
Try to always let someone know what route you are taking and what time you expect to arrive too. That way, if you do get into trouble, someone knows where to start looking for you.
4. Be Seen
During winter storms or slushy conditions on the road, visibility is decreased. Help other drivers on the road always see you by keeping your headlights on.
Avoid lingering in any driver’s blind spot for longer than necessary.
When turning, always use your turn signal. Sometimes snow covers up turn lanes, so it can be hard to know where you are going without them.
Also, try to use main roads as they are the priority for cities to keep clear. This way, if you get stuck or slide off the road, other drivers can see you and help.
5. Give Yourself Time
One of the best ways to keep calm on the road is to leave earlier than usual. This will give you more time to reach your destination.
When you are less stressed about it, you can drive slower and take fewer risks at intersections or passing.
Winter weather isn’t always an extreme situation, but it is good to be prepared. If a big storm is expected, just avoid driving altogether, if possible. This helps keep you safe while also decreasing the total number of vehicles on the road for those who do need to be out driving.
If you do have to be out in the storm, be sure to remember these basic tips so you can feel more comfortable and drive with confidence in winter conditions.