Did you know that nearly 25% of traffic accidents happen on snowy, slushy, or ice pavement? And that nearly 70% of the nation’s roads are in snowy areas that get more than 5 inches of snow each year?
Driving in the snow doesn’t have to be dangerous, though, as long as you know what you are doing. While driving in the snow for the first time might make you never want to do it again, if you have some basic skills and prepare yourself and your vehicle, you can be a pro in no time.
Read on for our top tips for driving in the snow safely.
Create an Emergency Kit
We’ve all been there. You aren’t expecting snow or the weather is worse than predicted, so you find yourself dealing with snow and ice without the proper tools. Or, you get stuck and you don’t have anything to help you get un-stuck.
Instead of finding yourself in this position during future winters, make sure you are prepared. Create an emergency kit for your car that includes the following:
- An ice scraper
- A snow brush
- A snow shovel in case you get stuck
- Cat litter, sand, or an old blanket to use for traction if you get stuck
- Booster cables
- Warm clothing (hat, gloves, coat, etc.)
If you get stuck or stranded, you want to make sure you have some provisions in your car if you can’t get out and are stuck for several hours or overnight. You’ll be thankful that you stocked your car with warm clothing, blankets, water, and snacks if you are ever stranded.
Prepare Your Car
Just like you might winterize your home, you’ll want to do the same for your car. Your tires should be properly inflated and have plenty of tread. If you’re not sure about inflating them, check on the doorframe inside the driver-side door. The proper pressure for each of your tires will be listed here.
If you haven’t had new tires in a long time, check how much tread you have left. Trying to stop on an icy road is not when you want to find out that your tires are bald. Even better: sign up for a tire subscription service to save time and money and make sure your tires are always roadworthy.
Other ways to prepare your car include replacing your windshield wipers if they are old and worn, filling up your windshield washer fluid (you can get special formulas for the winter months that won’t freeze), and always keep at least half a tank of gas in your car. This prevents your gas line from freezing. Not only that, but it will also ensure you don’t get stranded somewhere while you’re low on fuel.
Tips for Driving in the Snow
If possible, try to avoid driving when conditions are snowy and icy. When you do have to go out, which is often unavoidable, especially in areas where it snows often, make sure you are following these tips for driving in the snow and ice.
This should go without saying. It takes longer to stop when the road is covered in snow and ice, so you need to slow down. It’s also harder to control your car on ice if you are going too fast.
Don’t feel that you have to go the speed limit if conditions don’t allow it. In fact, if you are going too fast for the conditions and cause an accident, you may even be cited by police, even if you were under the speed limit.
Turn on Your Headlights
Just as you do when it is raining, turn on your headlights when it is snowing. This helps other drivers see you and also improves your visibility.
Increase Following Distance
Because it takes longer to stop, you should increase your following distance. You don’t want to slam into the person in front of you because you were following too close and slid on the snow and ice when you tried to stop.
Don’t Slam on the Brakes
If you start skidding or sliding, your first instinct is probably to slam on the brakes. This is not what you should do, however, when roads are snowy and icy.
Instead, you should slow down gradually and if you have anti-lock brakes, apply light pressure. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, slowly pump the brake.
For a front-wheel skid, slowly ease off the gas so your front tires can regain traction. If it is a rear-wheel skid, turn the wheel in the direction that your rear wheels are sliding and then ease off the gas and try to avoid hitting the brakes.
Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly
If you slam on the gas, you’ll quickly learn that you’re going to go nowhere. When you are at a stop and need to start moving again on an icy or snowy road, you should slowly accelerate to avoid spinning your wheels and not moving.
Take your time to slow down for stop signs and traffic signals as well. Start applying the brake much earlier than you would if the roads were clear.
Driving in the Snow Safely
While driving in the snow can be nerve-wracking, especially if you are a new driver or new to wintry conditions, you can ensure your safety with some easy preparations and knowing how to handle your vehicle on icy and snowy roads.
Just like you practiced driving a car on clear roads when getting your driver’s license, you should practice driving on snow and ice as well. Take a trip to an empty parking lot to get a feel for how your car handles in the winter weather and if nothing else, simply remember to slow down and take your time.
If you want to make sure you never have to worry about shopping around for new tires and wasting part of your day waiting on their installation, check out our services and download our app today.