Top 10 Winter Driving Safety Tips
Winter driving can be a pleasant experience if you prepare for it correctly. The condition of your car, the condition of road surfaces, and the weather matter a lot.
With so many things to consider, we've compiled a list of the top 10 ways to winterize your vehicle and stay safe on the road!
1. Winterize Your Car: Is your car prepared for winter driving? Check the condition of your tires, mirrors, battery and windshield, and make sure the heating systems in your car are functioning properly. If your car is stored outside, clear all debris such as leaves, *snow and *ice from your mirrors, windshield and roof.
*Ice and compacted snow can fly off the roof of your vehicle as you drive, and pose a serious danger to other road users.
2. Know Your Limits: Do you know how your vehicle will behave on slippery, icy roadways? Jerking the steering wheel and braking hard will cause you to lose control and start sliding around when the road is slippery or covered with snow. Driving in a smooth, controlled manner is the best way to drive safely.
3. Leave Enough Distance: Poor road conditions will affect the stopping distance of your vehicle, so leave enough room and don't tailgate! Remember, it's almost impossible to see black ice until you're on top of it.
4. Reduce Your Speed: You can't drive in winter weather the same as you would in normal conditions. *Most people drive too fast, so travel at speeds that you feel comfortable with. Don't feel pressured into going faster or even meeting the speed limit if the conditions don't allow it.
*If you are found to be driving unsafely and too fast for the conditions of the road, you can get a ticket!
5. Learn How To Skid: Prepare by learning how to control your vehicle in a skid. Is your car front-wheel, rear-wheel or four-wheel drive? This will change how your vehicle behaves when sliding. To control a skid, turn into it so that the weight of your vehicle shifts from the front to the rear. Another good tip is to slow down before making a turn.
6. Turn Your Lights On: In snowy conditions, it can be hard to see other vehicles on the road, so make yourself as visible as possible and turn on your lights (even during the day). Don't use your high beams, because they will decrease your visibility by causing glare. Instead, turn your fog lights on if your car has them, and use your low lights as well.
7. Turn Off Cruise Control: Driving with cruise control, your car might accelerate in a slippery or wet patch and hydroplane. Avoid this by not using it when the road is slick.
8. Don't Pump the Brakes: With ABS braking systems (most modern cars have them but check your manual if you're not sure), there is no need to 'pump' the brakes. ABS will let you steer while fully applying the brakes. For older vehicles without ABS, pumping the brakes while skidding will give you to more control of the car. If you're looking for a new car, your best option is one with ABS, VSC (vehicle stability control) or traction control.
9. Pay Attention and Focus: Eliminate distractions while driving. Know what your next move will be and anticipate how your car will behave.
10. Plan Ahead: Check the weather, and bring appropriate supplies. Take a first aid kit, water, food, and survival blankets. Always keep booster cables, an ice scraper and snow brush, road flares, matches, and a charged cell phone on hand. Don't drive in poor weather conditions if you can help it.