Tips for Safe Driving in the Winter

With the winter storm warning looming above our heads, it seems appropriate to share some tips for safe driving, not only in the winter, but also in the snow that is inevitable.

Driving During the Winter

  1. Avoid driving while you’re fatigued. No matter what season, you want to be well-rested and fully aware when you’re behind the wheel.
  2. Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  3. Make sure your tires are properly inflated
  4. Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  5. Don’t mix radial tires with other tire types.
  6. Try to avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy, and snowy weather, when possible.
  7. Always look and steer where you want to go.
  8. Put on your seatbelt every time you get in your vehicle.

Driving in the Snow

  1. Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Remember to take time to slow down for a stoplight. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  2. Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, turning – nothing happens as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  3. The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  4. Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal. Using this technique, you will be using all the brake force available just before the ABS kicks in (i.e. you are trying for the “threshold” right before lock-up).
  5. Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
  6. Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
  7. Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. As noted above, get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
  8. When all else fails, just stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

We hope you heed these tips to stay safe this winter!

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