How to Drive Safely in Snow
Winter weather conditions can be scary and dangerous for drivers and they are a factor in almost half a million crashes and more than 2,000 road deaths every winter, according to research by the AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety.
Whether you live in an area that gets a lot of snow or only gets buried once in a while, it takes effort to drive safely in the snow and reduce your risk of a snow-related car accident. Those who are overconfident because they have four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive often end up in the ditch. These snow driving tips from caranddriver.com and AAA can help you arrive at your destination safely.
Top tips to drive safely in the snow
- Avoid stopping unless necessary. If you are able, it is safer to slow down enough to keep rolling until the traffic light changes to green.
- Slow down. Driving below the speed limit reduces your chance of skidding and crashing.
- Avoid jerky movements. Turn the steering wheel slowly, push the brake and gas pedals gently.
- Don’t try to power up hills. Slamming on the accelerator increases the chance of making your wheels spin. It is better to get a “running start” and use that start to carry you to the top of the hill. Gently brake as you reach the top of the hill and drive slowly down the hill.
- Avoid distractions. Distracted driving is a leading cause of car accidents even without snow driving conditions but it’s even more important to avoid distractions when driving on snowy or icy road conditions.
- Look far ahead. Look far ahead of your vehicle to anticipate movements or objects that will cause you to stop or slow down. Allow triple your normal stopping distance (instead of 2 seconds, it should be six).
- Pay attention to flashing lights. If an amber light with a picture of a car and squiggly lines behind it is lit up this is the stability-control system warning you that your wheels are slipping. Slow down to allow your tires to regain their grip.
- Look in the direction you want your car to go. If your car starts skidding, look in the direction you want your car to go; not the direction your car is skidding.
- Know how to handling skidding. It is quite possible to recover from a skid without crashing your vehicle if you follow these tips:
- Stay calm.
- Do not slam on the brakes.
- If your front tires have lost grip, causing the car to turn in a wider arc than you expected; ease off the gas. Aim your eyes and steering wheel (gently) where you want to go as the tires begin to grip the road again.
- If your rear tires have lost grip and you start to spin out, quickly turn the steering wheel in the same direction that the rear of your car is sliding. Steer back in the original direction as the wheels regain traction.
- If you cannot control the skid, use your anti-lock brake system (ABS) if you have one. Activate your ABS by pressing the brake pedal down hard and don’t let it back up; you will still be able to steer your car around obstacles. Note that ABS is a computerized system that optimizes braking in extreme conditions and is installed on all new vehicles and that most shudder when they activate. Even if you don’t have ABS, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Invest in snow tires. Snow tires are the best way to improve your safety on snowy or icy roads.
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