We all know that there are added risks to winter driving that can easily cause a devastating accident. Besides dealing with snow, ice, sleet and extreme cold, there are other factors that go into making winter driving so dangerous. Here are some circumstances around winter driving that you may not always be thinking of but can make you much safer until spring returns.
Notice the surface of the road – Did it rain the night before and now the roads are slippery? In your rush to get to work or get errands accomplished, you may not notice the roads are not just wet, but also icy. You do not want to be skidding off the road before you realize the roads are slick.
Do you need to pump the brakes? – If you are driving a newer car, you will most likely have anti-lock brakes. These types of brakes do not require you to pump on them. You will stop more quickly and efficiently if you press down on the brake pedal with steady pressure.
Use your shift to help slow you down – If you are in a car or truck and using the overdrive mode on your shift while driving on icy roads, you may want to put the shift into regular drive mode. By being in drive mode, when you let off the brake the engine will slow down and naturally reduce the speed of the vehicle. This can help on slippery roads.
No need to cruise – Cruise control is a nice luxury to have, but it is not recommended in winter. Hitting ice on the road or on a bridge is best handled when you are in full control of the vehicle.
Check your blades – Rain is one thing, but in winter when you are in a snow or sleet storm, if you have deficient blades, you may just be making matters worse. It is a good idea to have new wiper blades in the winter and a full tank of windshield washer fluid that can handle extreme temperatures.
Clear the windows – Before you start driving, if you have ice or frost on your windows, you should remove all of it. Make sure you have a strong ice remover tool in your car and maybe even a brush. When you scrape your windows, you should remove all the ice and frost and not just enough of an area for you to peek through.
Ease up on the accelerator – One of the most dangerous parts of winter driving comes down to speed. Winter driving reaction times decrease significantly in the winter and the best way to combat that is with less speed. You may also find that on snow or ice, the easier you press on the gas pedal the better you can move forward.
Give other drivers room – When wintry conditions are causing everyone to drive a little slower, respect what other drivers are trying to do and give them space. If you happen to have the best tires and best vehicle for winter driving, your confident driving around others can intimidate them and maybe even make them over-adjust to you coming on strong.
Steer into skids – It can often go against our most natural instincts, but if you are in a skid, you should turn the wheel the direction the car is skidding. Another thing to do while in a skid is to lay off the brakes. It will also be a natural tendency to press on the brake pedal to stop since you do not want to be skidding away. However, you will have the most control when you keep your tires moving instead of locking them up.
Winter driving is something that can demand extra caution and care to ensure your safety while out on the roads. By taking a little extra time to prepare yourself for the hazards of winter driving, you may be saving yourself from a future crash, injury or even death.