The first winter storm of the year brought heavy snow, strong winds and record-low temperatures to much of the country. Icy roads were blamed for several deaths and numerous car accidents. The Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) estimates 168,300 crashes a year occur on snowy or icy pavement. If you absolutely must drive, follow these tips for driving in the snow.
1. Maintain a safe following distance
Ensure there are 3 seconds between your car and the vehicle in front of you to give yourself enough time to stop safely and avoid a collision. In slick or icy conditions, double the 3-second rule to 6 seconds.
2. Clear snow
If you’re can’t see out all vehicle windows, you can’t drive safely. Remove snow and ice from all windows and side mirrors.
3. De-ice your windshield
Keep your windshield washer tank full at all times. Be sure wiper blades are in good condition.
4. Learn how to control a skid
In a skid, help gain control by steering in the direction you want your vehicle to go.
5. Avoid using cruise control
You need to be alert and in control at all times, so save cruise control for normal road conditions.
6. Reduce your speed
Slow down. It can take much longer to stop in snowy or icy conditions.
7. Use your anti-lock brakes (ABS) properly
ABS brakes can be effective. Just maintain firm, constant pressure. Your vehicle owners’ manual explains how they work and how they should be used in inclement conditions.
8. Install snow tires
Compared to all-weather tires, snow or winter tires have tread designed to maintain a better grip on icy and snowy surfaces. Experts recommend installing winter tires on all 4 wheels.
For added peace of mind, create an emergency car kit using our list of winter driving gear. Driving in snow increases the chances of an accident, so prepare yourself by remembering these safety tips when you get on the road.