Winter is a great time to sit by a warm crackling fire all snuggled up in a blanket with a hot cup of cocoa. It's also one of the worst times of the year with treacherous roads. While we may all wish to hibernate until spring, undoubtedly that just isn't the case and driving on the roads is in our foreseeable future.
Here are some driving tips in winter weather conditions to help you stay safe on snowy, icy or wet roads.
TIP #1 - Reduce your speed. Slowing down is the most important thing to do when driving on ice and snow. High speeds make it both easy to lose control and difficult to stop. Keep your speed no faster than 45 mph in any vehicle when roads are icy - not even on highways! In many cases, even 45 mph is to fast. You can slide off of the road on certain types of more treacherous icing - like black ice - at 10 mph or less! If you notice your vehicle sliding or fishtailing at all, it means your going to fast for the road conditions.
TIP #2 - Don't drive if you don't have to. The best way to avoid unsafe situations and circumvent an accident on winter roads is to simply stay off the roads until the conditions improve. Nothing is more inconvenient than getting into a vehicle wreck or being stuck in a ditch.
TIP #3 - Keep full fuel in the tank. Or at the minimum a half a tank of gas. Delays are inevitable in winter road conditions and you don't want to be anxiously distracted looking at your fuel gauge and searching for the nearest gas station.
TIP #4 - Take it easy on the brakes. Slamming on your brakes is a common trigger of slides, but braking correctly can help you retain control. Pump your brakes slow and steady with enough distance in between vehicles. This will allow you more time to come to a complete stop and help your ABS (antilock brakes) from locking up your wheels.
TIP# 5 - Wear your seat belt. Wearing one should be a no-brainer at all times, but during critical winter months a most! According to Michigan State Police, in 2016, 196 people who died in a traffic crash were not wearing their seat belts. Buckle up to reduce the risk of serious injury or death.
TIP #6 - Turn into a slide. The most important thing is to regain control of your vehicle. If you start to slide or skid, let off the gas pedal to help your vehicle naturally decelerate. Then steer into the direction of the skid or slide to stabilize and regain control. Don't overreact and turn the wheel away from the slide direction, as this will can lead to an overcorrection and make things worse or cause your vehicle to flip.
Winter roads can be an unsafe and slippery mess. Even if you live in a warm state, you benefit from knowing how to drive safely on winter roads for the times you visit friends or family who do reside in a four-season state. Stay safe out there to avoid those unnecessary accidents which can hit your pocket not only in your car insurance cost, but potentially in your healthcare cost.