Ice. Snow. Sleet. Freezing temperatures. Winter weather throws it all at us when we are out on the roads. Driving under these conditions can seem daunting. But following these tips will help put you back in the driver’s seat during the cold weather.
Be prepared. Have a shovel and a bag of sand in your trunk just in case you get stuck somewhere.
Make sure your car is all set. Check your battery, as temperatures could have affected it. Likewise, check the tire pressure which also could have dropped in low temperatures. In places with heavy snowfall or poor plowing, consider investing in snow tires. Replace old, worn wiper blades. Keep the gas tank full.
Avoid driving in the worst of the weather. Yes, our goal is to ensure you are able to drive safely, but part of responsible driving is recognizing when it’s not good to be out on the roads. If it’s the middle of a severe storm, if the roads haven’t been plowed, or if the sand trucks haven’t done a once-over on icy roads, try to avoid going out.
Clean off your car. Thoroughly remove all snow and ice from your front windshield and windows. Also make sure any side mirrors or cameras have been cleared.
Slow down. Drive at slower speed to account for poorer traction. Likewise, accelerate and decelerate more slowly. Make sure you set aside extra time so you don’t feel the pressure to rush.
Don’t use cruise control. If you hit an icy patch, your car’s cruise control may not be able to react as quickly as
Maintain your distance. You should be about three car lengths, or a stopping distance of 8 to 10 seconds, from the vehicles in front of you.
Keep your lights on. Keeping your lights on during the day, especially during a storm, will help compensate for reduced visibility, especially if it’s still snowing.
Exercise caution around snow plows. Snowplow drivers’ peripheral vision may be blocked by their plows or the snow coming off of them. Also, be aware that snow from a plow could hit your windshield blocking your view so adjust your distance accordingly. Don’t pass snow plows. For more on how to drive safely around snow plows, see this video.
Don’t hit the brakes if you hit ice. If you hit an icy patch, resist the urge to slam on the brakes. Instead, slowly pump the brakes. Remove your foot from the gas pedal. And steer into the skid.
We hope these tips keep you safe and give you confidence about going out on the road during winter weather.
Sources included: Driving Tests, National Safety Council, Kelley Blue Book, Mazda of Lodi, and Aceable.