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Tips For Novice Winter Drivers

If you’re new to winter driving, you’re likely to be faced with challenges when you hit the road in icy or snowy weather.  While the best tactic to take when the roads get really nasty is to avoid driving altogether, sometimes it can’t be helped.  If that’s the case, here are some handy tips to keep you safer on the road:

  • If possible, wait until the snow plows and sanding trucks have cleared the roads of ice and snow.
  • Make sure your windshield, mirrors, lights and windows are clear of snow and ice before you start driving to ensure maximum visibility.
  • Turn on your lights to make your vehicle easier to see in low visibility conditions.
  • Slick roads increase stopping times considerably.  Lower your speed and leave lots of extra room between you and the car in front of you.  The general rule of thumb is to drive with a minimum of three times more distance than normal between you and the car you’re following.
  • Go easy on the brakes to avoid skidding. Tap lightly on the brake and ease off if you start to skid.
  • Use your lower gears to increase traction on slick roads.
  • Bridges and overpasses are the first surfaces to freeze, so slow down before you enter these hazardous areas, even if the rest of the road isn’t frozen.  
  • If you get stuck, spinning your wheels will only dig you in deeper.
  • Try backing up and then going forward, accelerating lightly to clear a path out of the snow or ice.
  • Rock your vehicle by shifting from forward to reverse to gain traction.
  • If none of the above works, shovel the snow away from your wheels and pour gravel, salt, sand or kitty litter under your tires and in your car’s path for traction.
  • When driving in remote areas in winter, always carry emergency supplies in case of an emergency.  A first aid kit, blankets, flashlight, emergency flares, shovel, jumper cables, matches, food, gloves and warm clothing can be life-savers if you find yourself stranded in bad weather.