Driving in hazardous wintry road conditions is risky business for everyone, especially inexperienced drivers. It only takes one mistake to get involved in an auto accident. Not all accidents are preventable, but you can decrease the odds of being involved in a car accident if you follow these safe driving tips for the winter.
First off you need to make sure you have the proper tires on your vehicle, and that they are ready to take on the road. To be safe you should be using the proper category of tire for the season. In winter you will want either an all season set of tires or winter tires. Make sure all 4 tires are the size recommended by your car’s manufacturer. They should also have matching tread patterns. Be sure to replace any tires that do not have adequate tread depth for the conditions you will be driving in. Check the air pressure to determine if all of your tires are inflated to the proper PSI. If you plan to drive in snowy or icy conditions often, consider getting yourself studded snow tires.
Always play it safe when weather or road conditions are not favorable. Drive slower than normal. This will make you less likely to skid and crash, and it gives you more time to react if you need to stop, or dodge another vehicle. Keep a good distance from any vehicles traveling in front of you. With wet, snowy, or icy roads your stopping distance is greatly increased. You may want to tune in to your local radio station’s traffic reports and updates. This will give you a heads up in case you need to take advantage of an alternate route. If there is a specific time you need to be someplace, like work, give yourself enough time to get to your destination so you don’t have to rush. Even if this means leaving earlier than planned. If the road conditions are bad enough, consider staying home.
Even with the best preparation sometimes unforeseen events still occur. If your vehicle looses traction while you’re driving let your foot off of the accelerator. If you’re driving a standard transmission vehicle push in the clutch as well. Do not slam on the brakes unless you have a good working anti-lock brake system. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes then you will want to do what is called feathering the brakes. Feathering the brakes is when you gently apply the brake for a second or two, then release. Repeat this process as many times as needed until your vehicle regains traction. It’s basically what anti-lock brakes would do for you. If you car begins to fishtail (spin) steer the opposite way the car is spinning. So if your car begins to spin out in a counter clockwise direction, you would turn your steering wheel clockwise, and vice-versa. Another way to think of this is to always keep your wheels facing the direction you want to go.
Here are a few additional things you will want to keep in mind as you navigate your way through bad roads during the winter. Bridges are always the first places to freeze over. More often than not bridges will have black ice. Look at another vehicles tires when you’re driving and the road looks wet. If you notice that the sides of their tires are unusually dry you’re probably on black ice. Always be sure to have your lights on while your driving, to keep your vehicle full of windshield washing fluid, and to have good windshield wipers.
Driving under hazardous road conditions is not always something you can avoid. Always be sure to give yourself ample time to get where you’re going and to play it safe. Remember to keep these safe driving tips in mind because a little preparation can mean the difference between life and death.