It’s that time of year: the days are getting shorter and that telltale chill is back in the air. Winter in Northeast Ohio is on its way, and with it comes snowy or icy roads and often low visibility. Whether you’re planning a road trip to visit long-distance relatives this holiday season or just need to drive around town, you’ll want to take some extra precautions to make sure you’re safely getting to your destinations throughout the winter.
How to Drive Safely this Winter
Heavy snow can cause low visibility- or no visibility- and slick, icy roads. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates that every year, 24 percent of weather-related crashes occur on snowy, slushy or icy pavement, and 15 percent occur while it’s snowing. This means it’s vital to keep these safe winter driving tips in mind before you head out this season:
Prep your vehicle. Of course, you should always completely clear your car of any snow and ice so you can clearly see out of every window. On top of that, if you plan to use snow tires, now is the time to get those installed. Otherwise, inspect your current tires, making sure they are inflated to the manufacturer’s recommendation and look for wear and tear like bulges or low tread. Keep the tank filled with at least a half a tank of gas at all times, fill the windshield washer fluid and check other fluid levels, too.
Plan ahead. If it looks like the weather may get snowy, leave earlier than you normally would to get to your destination. Do some research so you know what alternate routes are available should you have to drive off-course due to poor road conditions.
Take it slow. One of the top winter driving tips is to just go slowly. Always accelerate slowly, especially when starting from a stop sign or red light so the tires are less likely to spin. Aside from that, remember that everything will take longer on snow-covered roads, so give yourself plenty of time to maneuver by driving slowly.
Avoid stopping and know your brakes. Try to avoid stopping if possible; it takes a great deal of inertia to start moving from a full stop versus accelerating while you’re still moving slightly. Also, know how well your brakes are working. You’ll need to allow for longer braking distances and use gentler pressure on the pedal to avoid sliding.
Know how to correct your car when it slides. On that same note, be ready to correct for a slide. If your vehicle starts to slide, stay calm first and foremost. Then, lightly lift your foot off the gas, counter-steer, and LOOK where you want the vehicle to go. Your hands will follow your eyes.
Watch out for others on the road. No matter how what safety precautions you’re taking in your car, you can’t be responsible for the actions of others. Be cautious when you’re out driving this winter, and pay close attention to the other vehicles on the road as drivers may be distracted or unpredictable.
When in doubt, don’t go out. Of course, the best way to stay safe on the roads this winter is to avoid them altogether! If you can avoid going out when it’s snowing or the pavement is icy, just stay home and let the errands wait until the conditions have cleared a bit.
Learn how to become a safe, confident driver this winter with Drive Team! Our winter skills clinics, for Teens & Parents and corporate drivers teach safe driving skills to drivers of all ages. Contact us for more information.