Stay in Control with These 10 Winter Driving Tips

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The winter season can be a scary time for drivers. You never know what to expect with regards to precipitation, temperature fluctuations, and traffic. It is possible to stay in control with various driving tips, such as knowing how to recover from ice skids, staying alert of the latest weather conditions and obtaining good, cheap car insurance to protect your financial assets just in case something does go wrong during the season of snow.

Let’s Explore our top 10 Winter Driving Tips:

  1. Pack a Winter Safety Kit.While nobody wants to think that breaking down is an option, you want to be prepared if it does happen. Keeping a winter safety kit in your car will keep you ready for some of the inconvenient possibilities that bad weather can throw at you.
  • Cat litter for traction
  • Ice scraper/snow brush
  • Can of lock de-icer
  • Blankets, warm hat, mittens
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Nonperishable snacks
  • Portable cell phone charger (charged)
  • Tow rope
  • Jumper cables

2. Slow Down.When the weather turns bad, reduce your speed significantly. While you don’t want to go too slow (because you’ll catch other drivers off guard and you won’t be able to climb snowy grades) you’ll want to keep a reasonable pace that allows you to stay in control of your vehicle. Snowy conditions often call for speeds of up to 50% less than posted limits.

3. How to Recover from Skids. Slipping on snow or ice can cause anxiety and even panic. The natural reaction to skids is to slam on the brakes, but that isn’t what you want to do. Instead, steer your vehicle gently into the direction you want the front of your car to go without touching the brakes.

4. Use Weather Apps. When you are planning on heading out, check weather conditions at your destination and along the way Consider installing The Weather Channel app, Weather Underground or Accuweather and keep notifications on so you will be alerted of bad weather. You can also make sure the local weather is within easy reach on your radio.

5. Keep Tires in Good Condition. Cold air will cause your tire pressure to reduce, so you’ll want to check it often and adjust accordingly. The depth of the tire tread should be 1/8” but if you live in a very snowy climate, you’ll want to consider getting snow tires. For those communities that will allow it, snow chains may also be in order.

6. Stay in the Vehicle. If you do end up getting stuck or stranded, and the weather is particularly bad, don’t venture out of your vehicle. Make sure you are clear of traffic and that the exhaust pipe isn’t obstructed so you don’t risk carbon monoxide poisoning. Call for assistance, buckle up for safety and wait patiently inside of your vehicle.

7. Keep Your Fuel Tank Half Full. Not only is it good for your vehicle, it’s also good for you if you get stuck! Having enough gas to keep the motor running if you are stranded could be a literal life saver. If you’re on a long trip, stop frequently for gas fill ups and to get some fresh air and stretch your legs.

8. Don’t Tailgate. Following too closely behind the vehicle in front of you increases your risk of collision. It’s advisable in normal weather conditions to be one car length behind for every 10 miles per hour. In bad weather, increasing that distance will ensure that you will have enough space and time to stop if there is slippery snow or ice beneath your tires.

9. Only Stop if You Need to. Stopping your vehicle mid-traffic will cause other drivers to either swerve around you in a panic or possibly rear end your car. Stopping on thick snow or ice also makes it difficult to start back up again. If you’re able to slow down before the intersection while the light changes to green, then do it.

10. Know Where the Ice Forms First. While ice can form virtually on any road surface, there are some areas that ice over before others do. This is good information for times when temperatures hover around the freezing mark and at the beginning (and end) of winter.

  • The areas of a landscape that naturally lie in shadow
  • Bridges and overpasses
  • High elevations
  • Roads running past or near bodies of water
  • Low lying areas

Don’t lose control of your driving this winter. Preparing your car and being patient and tolerant of others will go a long way in getting you to your destination – and back home – safely.

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