It’s that time of year where the weather conditions in Northeast Ohio can make traveling any sort of distance treacherous. In fact, according to the Federal Highway Administration, nearly 70 percent of the nation lives in regions which receive more than five inches of snowfall annually. And every year, icy conditions or snowy and slushy pavement causes 24 percent of all weather-related vehicle crashes, with 15 percent occurring during an event like snowfall or sleet.
Even the most experienced driver can feel trepidation about venturing out onto a snowy, slushy or icy road. And when you’re a newly-licensed driver, it may be your first time getting behind the wheel in these dangerous conditions. It’s important that you understand how to be as safe as possible on the roads throughout the winter season so you’re not only keeping yourself safe, but others on the road remain safe, too.
How to Safely Drive on Icy Roads
Ice on the roads brings unique challenges for all drivers. Black ice in particular can be extremely dangerous, as it’s basically invisible so you won’t know you’re driving on it until you hit it. While avoiding driving on icy roads altogether is generally recommended, there are a few things to keep in mind should you get stuck out there during a winter storm:
- Stay calm. Panicking when you’re driving in dangerous conditions is not going to help your situation. Try to keep your cool, take a few deep breaths, and keep your eyes open and your hands on the wheel.
- Properly prep your vehicle. Before driving in winter weather, make sure to clear your vehicle of any snow and ice so you can see out of every window. Keep your gas tank at least half full, and bring along proper winter gear including gloves, a hat and a blanket in case of any emergencies.
- Pump your brakes. Try to avoid sudden movements when you hit an icy spot, and this includes accelerating and/or jamming on the brakes. Hitting the brakes too forcefully will cause the car to slide, and you can easily lose control of the vehicle when that happens.
- Turn into a slide. Sometimes sliding on icy roads is unavoidable. If you feel your vehicle sliding or fishtailing, slow down by gently reducing your speed as mentioned above. Turn the wheel in the direction the rear of the car is sliding, keeping your eyes on where you want the car to go so your hands on the wheel follow them.
- Avoid hills and bridges. Plan your route accordingly by avoiding dangerous areas like hills and bridges. There will be no way to stop yourself from sliding down an icy hill, as gravity will be working against you in this case! Also, remember that bridges and overpasses tend to freeze faster than other roads, even when they’ve been treated with salt.
- Be cautious of other drivers. You might feel confident enough to drive on icy roads, but others out there may not. Always stay alert and aware of those around you, keeping a safe distance away from other vehicles at all times.
Teen Winter Skills Clinic Offered by DriveTeam
If you’d like to hone in on your winter driving skills so you can feel safe and confident on those icy roads this season, Drive Team offers a four hour winter skills clinic designed just for teens. With our hands-on training in our SkidCar and SkidVan, you’ll learn importance techniques like skid avoidance and control, traction control and accident avoidance. We even cover how to properly winterize your car. Slots are filling up, so we urge you to register today!