7 Winter Driving Safety Tips

safe driving snow

Photo from Steve Maw

Just when you think it’s over, a new avalanche of snowfall comes in to obliterate the roads and make your daily commute a death-defying stunt fit for the movies.

Who knows if this winter thing will ever end?

Not even a week ago — in March, no less — the southern US was hit again. Along with this bad weather comes bad driving (or “inexperienced” if we’re being nice about it).

So, just in case, we get hit again in the next week or two, here are some helpful safety tips for driving in snow.


1. De-Ice The Windshield.

Before ever starting out on your journey, it’s best to remove all ice from the glass portions of your vehicle. This reduces impaired vision and enables you to see as you’re driving whether you’re heading for a particularly hazardous patch of snow and ice. (Additional tip: if your defroster isn’t working well, have it checked out immediately by a professional. You don’t want to be in the middle of a drive and have ice crystals form into your field of vision.)


2. Remove Snow From The Roof Of Your Vehicle.

Some motorists just scrape the windshield and hope for the best. Then, while stopping at a traffic light, a thick mountain of snow slides down the front and blocks out visibility. Make sure you remove all threats before taking your car out of Park, even potential ones.


3. Don’t Follow Too Closely.

Typically, you’re told to ensure there are three seconds between yours and the car in front of you, a Nationwide representative states, adding that in extremely slick and icy conditions, you should “double that to a six-second rule.” While you’re at it, it’s a good idea to cut the speed limit in half. Not only will this reduce the possibility of your car spinning out of control, but it will also enable you to more effectively correct your automobile should you drive directly into hazardous conditions. Do not go the Speed Limit. Doing so may not get you a ticket, but it could certainly make you the cause of a multi car pileup. (We’d rather have the ticket.)


4. Control The Skids.

When you hit a patch of ice and feel your car start to spin out of control, try to regain by steering back in the direction you want your car to go. It’s not foolproof, but it can counteract the displacement of your car enough to get you back on track.


5. Be Very Careful With Brakes.

While anti-lock brakes can help you come to a safe stop, not every car has them and not every motorist who does is capable of using them properly. If using the ABS feature, Nationwide suggests that you use “firm, constant pressure,” and to consult your owners manual for help in learning how they function. Do not, under any circumstances, slam on your brakes when you feel your car start to drift. If you notice a stop on the horizon, use your brakes only where road visibility is clear and you can tell there isn’t a possibility of black ice. Start early, slow down as much as you can, and let yourself roll to the intersection.


6. Do Not Trust Cruise Control.

Cruise control is a fantastic feature for adding comfort to long drives, but you should never use it in town, especially when dealing with hazardous road conditions. Manual control allows you to more accurately plan for abrupt maneuvering and stops.


7. Install Chains Or Snow Tires.

If it’s financially feasible, these can be invaluable to your snowy commute. They grip the road in a way the standard rubber tire can’t. The initial cost up front could end up saving you hundreds and keep your auto insurance deductible lower in the end.


In Summary

Who knows if you’ll need it, but with the zaniness of Mother Nature, it never hurts to be prepared. Follow these tips for driving in snow, and you’ll greatly reduce your chances of filing a claim.

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