Ice skating, snowball fights and glistening, frozen lakes—the wintertime is certainly beautiful. However, the roads can quickly become treacherous as the temperature drops. Driving in snow is a dangerous task that is unfortunately unpreventable during the winter months. Here at All Island Transportation, we’re familiar with safe driving since it’s our number one priority. To help you stay safe behind the wheel, we’ve compiled this list of winter driving tips, as well as some advice on winter weather maintenance for your vehicle.
Winter Driving Tips
Expect the Unexpected
The most important of all winter driving tips is to drive cautiously, whether there’s snow on the road or not. Even if it rains only a little bit, black ice can form on the road, making it appear safe when it’s actually too slippery to be gripped by your tires.
Keep Your Distance from the Car in Front of You
It’s unsafe to tailgate the car in front of you when the roads are safe, let alone when you’re driving in snow or ice. Needless to say, if you’re too close to the car in front of you and have to stop short on a slick stretch of road, there’s a good chance you’ll skid into them.
It may seem obvious, but when you’re driving in snow, you just can’t go as fast as you normally do. Speeding is a habit that’s easy to fall into, so when it snows you may not even realize you’re driving much faster than you should be. Keep an eye on your speed.
Stock Your Car
Don’t get caught in a storm without a snow scraper. If conditions are expected to be particularly bad, it doesn’t hurt to keep snow chains and even nonperishable food, water and a sleeping bag in your car, too.
Safe Maneuvers for When You’re Skidding
No matter how cautiously you drive, the fact remains that you might skid out. Since there’s no safe way to practice gaining control of a skidding car, it’s important that you’re familiar with winter driving tips in case it happens to you:
- Remain calm. Losing control of your car is scary, so remaining calm is easier said than done. But, try your best, because panicking will only cloud your judgment and cause you to act irrationally.
- Take your foot off the gas, brake and clutch. Let your wheels stop spinning so you can try to regain traction slowly.
- Gently steer your car in the direction you want to go. Make sure you’re gentle so you don’t oversteer and begin skidding even more.
- After your car begins going in the direction you want it to, gently counter-steer in the other direction. This well help you from skidding out the other way.
- If the above turning maneuvers fail, gently pump the brake. This action may cause your car to stop. Do not jam the brakes, however, since your wheels will lock up and regaining traction will be impossible.
Winter Weather Maintenance Tips
The above winter driving tips are meaningless if your car won’t start. To avoid rush-hour breakdowns and preventable accidents, keep up with these winter weather maintenance tips:
- Make sure you’ve got fresh antifreeze in the cooling system.
- Check your tires so they have not only the right pressure, but a good amount of tread left to prevent skidding.
- Ensure that your battery is functioning properly.
- Look into “winter weight” oil so your oil doesn’t get too dirty too quickly.
- Check your brakes to make sure you can stop short.
- Seal up any leaks in the exhaust system to prevent carbon monoxide fumes.
- Make sure your interior heater and windshield wipers are up to par. Don’t forget to check your windshield wiper fluid level, too.
- Don’t let your headlights burn out. Check them periodically so your car is detectable by other drivers in low-visibility conditions.
For maximum safety, only drive when absolutely necessary if there’s snow on the ground.