Safe Winter Driving Tips

We have been blessed with great weather, but as that starts to change this is a good time to review some safe winter driving tips.

The most important tip is the simplest...to be 100% safe when the roads are snow and ice covered, 
don’t leave the house!  Unfortunately, most of us don’t have the luxury of letting the winter weather run its course.  We have to get out there and go, so if you must leave the house, the second tip would be not leaving your warm and cozy abode until you are sure the snow plows and salt trucks have had a chance to do their job, the main thing is not to be in a hurry! 

Once you get out on the roads, the best rules to follow are decreasing your speed relative to how bad the conditions are (being a few minutes late is better than not making it at all) and make sure to leave yourself more room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.  The general rule of thumb is to leave three times as much room as you would under normal conditions. 

When braking, make sure to do it gently to avoid skidding, and if you feel the wheels locking up ease off the brake.  If your vehicle is equipped with anti-locking brakes (ABS) you do not have to "pump" the brakes, you may apply steady pressure to the brakes and they are designed to "pulse" and not lock up the brakes.  If your wheels do begin to skid calmly take your foot off the accelerator, steer into the direction of any
skid that you are in and then keep the steering wheel steady until you feel your wheels start to grip. 

It's a good idea to keep your windshield and lights clear of snow and ice as much as possible.  Also traveling with your lights on is a good idea even during daylight hours as it will help increase your visibility to other drivers.  It is not a good idea to use your cruise control on bad weather roads, and don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions...even four wheel drives and all wheel drives can have trouble in bad weather. 

Lastly, be especially careful on bridges, overpasses, or less traveled roads, as they can become icy even at above freezing temperatures. 

If you do end up getting stuck first off don't spin your wheels as this will only dig you deeper and get you more stuck.  Turn your wheels from side to side to help move snow out of the way, and lightly touch the gas to ease yourself out.  You may also use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and underside of the vehicle.  Pouring a little sand, gravel, salt, or even kitty litter in the path of the wheels for extra traction.  Another thing you might try is to rock the vehicle back and forth to get yourself out (make sure to consult your vehicle's owner's manual on what is acceptable when going back and forth in your particular vehicle). 

Take a look at our earlier blog for tips on winterizing your vehicle and be safe out there!

 

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