It's that time of the year again when driving can be treacherous. Many accidents could be avoided if drivers took time to learn and practice these tips for driving safely during snowy and icy conditions.
Perhaps the deadliest danger of all is "black ice." Black ice is ice which forms on a roadway, usually due to snow melting and re-freezing. Since it is almost invisible, drivers fail to recognize black ice conditions and may drive at normal speeds-often resulting in very serious accidents. Always be alert to the possibility of black ice when temperatures are near or below freezing. Pavement that looks dry but appears darker in color and dull-looking should alert you to the presence of black ice.
Failing to allow yourself enough time to stop is a major cause of winter driving accidents. During slippery conditions stopping distances can triple. Driving at a slower speed, anticipating stops at traffic lights and intersections, and applying brakes sooner than normal will help ensure accident-free stops.
Acceleration, turning, and passing also present dangers during winter. Again, leave extra space between yourself and other vehicles so there's room to maneuver in case something goes wrong. During a skid, steer cautiously in the direction you want the car to go. REMEMBER KEEP YOUR WINDOWS CLEAR.
The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared and that you know how to handle road conditions.
Safe Driving Tips For This Winter
- Bridges and overpasses freeze first, so always slow down and avoid sudden changes in speed or direction.
- To make antilock brakes work correctly, apply constant, firm pressure to the pedal. During an emergency stop, push the brake pedal all the way to the floor, if necessary, even in wet or icy conditions.
- If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car and wheels, to help get traction. Try rocking the vehicle by slowly shifting from forward to reverse, and back again. - In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap and blankets.
- If you become stranded, do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
- To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
- If you are sure the car's exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
- Keep at least one window open slightly as heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.