I know that not everyone has to deal with driving in the snow, some people are lucky and never have to brave a winter storm to head to the grocery store or work. Though these tips are specifically for driving in the snow I think that a lot of them work just as well with extremely rainy conditions as well. If you can avoid driving altogether when the conditions get rough, please do! But sometimes you absolutely have to drive, and in those cases please remember these tips.
1. Check your tires.
Before the first snowfall comes make sure to check your tires to see if they have sufficient tread to handle icy roads. In order to test your tread take a penny and hold it so that Mr. Lincolns head is facing down. Insert the penny in between the tread on your tires and if you cover the top of Mr. Lincolns’ head, you’re good. If the tread doesn’t reach the top of his head then you probably need new tires.
2. Drive slowly.
This one seems so obvious, but there are so many people who must forget because there are so many accidents caused by cars going way too fast. Even if you do end up hitting another car or running into a fence, if you’re going a slow speed there likely won’t be much damage.
3. Don’t come to a full stop, if possible.
If you can slow down way before a stoplight and be going slowly enough that you can continue through as it changes to green before you fully approach it, go ahead and do that as you may otherwise get stuck on the ice.
4. Understand your brakes.
If you have ABS (anti-lock brakes) then you simply need to push the brake all the way down when you’re trying to stop quickly. It is normal for the pedal to vibrate quite a bit when you’re stopping, that means that the ABS is working! If you do not have ABS you’ll need to pump your brakes in order to come to a quick stop.
5. Accelerate slowly.
You can’t expect your car to accelerate as quickly when the roads are icy. If you get the wheels spinning too quickly off of the get-go you won’t gain enough traction and may end up digging yourself holes in the ice and snow that your wheels will get stuck in.
6. Give yourself plenty of room to stop.
It can be easy to revert to your sunny-day driving and trail behind the car in front of you without giving much room. But when the roads are icy you won’t be able to stop as quickly and may end up rear-ending the other car! On dry pavement you should follow someone by about 3 to 4 seconds. When there are winter conditions present, you should increase that to 8 to 10 seconds at least.
If the conditions are too bad, please try to stay home and wait for the weather to lighten up and for the roads to be plowed and salted. If you must venture out, please be safe!
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