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10 Tips for Driving in Ice and Snow

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On: Thu, Jan 30, 2014 at 10:59AM | By: Bill Wilson

10 Tips for Driving in Ice and Snow

If this winter has proven anything, it’s that severe weather can pop up where it’s least expected. Just ask the residents of Atlanta, GA or San Antonio, TX. With spring still a few months away, now is a great time to review the following tips for driving in icy and snowy conditions.

Tip # 1: Don’t Drive…
Unless you have to, that is. Winter weather greatly increases the odds of being involved in a crash. This doesn’t include the chances of suffering from hypothermia or getting your vehicle stuck in a ditch or snowbank. So, if you don’t have to go somewhere, stay inside where it’s safe and warm.

Tip # 2: Keep Your Sight Clear
Make sure your windshield, side and rear windows, etc., are free of snow and ice before you start driving. Use a scraper or one of the chemical products made to remove frozen precipitation. But under no circumstances should you pour hot water on auto glass; the drastic change in temperature can cause your windshield to crack or even shatter.

Tip # 3: Stay Where the Action is
Lightly traveled roads tend to be much worse to drive on than busy streets and interstates. So stick with the main traffic arteries whenever possible.

Tip # 4: Keep it Straight and Slow
Posted speed limits were set with summer driving conditions in mind. Stay at least 15-20 mph below them when the weather turns rough. Steer as little as possible and don’t pass other vehicles unless it’s unavoidable. Stay three to four car lengths behind the car in front of you, and never pass snow plows or salt/scraping trucks.

Tip # 5: Watch for Shadows
The least bit of shade on a road can keep the darkened spot frozen for much longer than surrounding areas. So look ahead for shady places and avoid them if possible.

Tip # 6: Go Easy on the Brakes
Most cars today are equipped with anti-lock braking system, making pumping the pedal unnecessary. If you drive an older vehicle, then pump the brakes gently when coming to a stop. It’s vital that you never “slam” on the pedal; you’ll lost control of your car instantly.

Tip # 7: Be Mindful of Bridges and Underpasses
Use special care when driving over these surfaces, as they freeze much sooner than surrounding areas.

Tip # 8: Go With the Skid
If you start to skid, then turn in the direction the vehicle is moving, not the other way. Make sure your feet are off the brake pedal and the accelerator.

Tip # 9: Be Prepared
Keep basic survival supplies like a blanket, first aid kit, and extra food and water in the vehicle. Include a snow shovel and a bag of sand, gravel, or kitty litter in the trunk or behind the seat as well. In case you do end up in a ditch, it may give your tires the traction needed for your car to get free. That leads to our last suggestion.

Tip # 10: If You do Get Stuck…
Don’t spin the wheels; this will only wedge you in deeper. Dig as much of the snow or ice as possible out from around the tires with your shovel, then pack sand, gravel, or kitty litter around the wheels. Step on the gas gently and see if your vehicle pulls frees. You may want to try rocking the car back and forth by shifting the transmission from forward to reverse; this old trick works quite often.

Nothing can guarantee your safety when driving in snow or ice. But, by following the tips in this article, you can maximize your chances of avoiding an accident and arriving at your destination safe and sound. Good luck and good driving!


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