Winter is upon us and with it comes dangerous driving conditions. Knowing how to drive in snow and ice can help prevent an accident and keep your insurance premiums low. One winter driving accident can send your insurance payments through the roof. While staying off the road is the best way to stay safe, there are just some days that you have to go into the office or pick the kids up. If you have to get out on the road, knowing how to handle lousy road conditions is essential.
Here are just a few tips on how to safely drive during the winter:
Don’t Slide Around – Having the right tires on your car can make a big difference when it comes to getting around in the snow. You should have at least 6/32 of inch of tread depth on your wheels. If you live in an area that regularly has snow-covered roads, consider putting snow tires on your car. High performance tires will offer almost no traction on snow so park the high-end sports car in the garage and get out the SUV.
Know Where You are Going – Taking your eyes off the road to look at a map can be a recipe for disaster. Familiarize yourself with your route and check the weather so there are no surprises. If you are heading to the mountains you should keep an eye out for avalanche warnings.
Keep Your Windshield Clean – Proper Visibility is key to staying safe on snowy and icy roads. Replace your windshield wipers before the snowy season and be sure you windshield washer system is working. Fill up with washer fluid and consider applying water-shedding formulas like Rain-X to help keep your windshield clear.
See Where You Are Going – Lighting up the road can make the difference between a safe drive and missing the black ice that sends you off a cliff. Slush and road grime can cover your headlights and reduce your visibility dramatically. Clear your headlights and taillights of snow if your car has been outside. It goes without saying that if one of your lights is out, replace it immediately, not only is it illegal to drive with a burned out light, its dangerous.
Black Ice Can Be Deadly – Black ice or glare ice is one of the biggest road hazards you will encounter. It is basically transparent and looks like a puddle and can resemble the road, making it almost impossible to see. If you are concerned, test out the traction by making a slight braking action.
Keep Steering to a Minimum – In rough weather and slick conditions too much steering can result in an accident. If a slick section of road causes the front tires to lose grip do not continue to turn the steering wheel. This is a common reaction but it will not solve the problem. Luckily, many cars today are equipped with electronic stability control which can help correct a skid and prevent an accident. Don’t rely on technology alone, while it can be a big help, it will not completely control the car. Staying alert and driving smart is your best bet for staying safe.
Drive Slow- Speed kills and that is doubly true on snow and ice covered roads. Allow yourself plenty of space between you and the car in front of you. Keep your speed down, especially around corners and be hyper alert to hazards and other vehicles. Slow for stop signs and lights earlier than normal as you may end up sliding if the road is icy.
Driving in snow and ice is dangerous but in some case you have no choice. Keep these tips in mind the next time you find yourself out on the road with less than perfect conditions.
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