Many motorists avoid driving in winter weather because they don’t feel comfortable. It’s actually not a bad idea. According to a study conducted by the University of Georgia, more than 800 people die each year in motor vehicle accidents that occur during winter weather. Snow, sleet, and freezing rain all create dangerous driving conditions that should be avoided whenever possible.
Recognizing that there will be times when you must drive in bad weather, here are some tips to help you get to your destination safe and sound.
- Slow down. Wherever you’re trying to get to, it’s still going to be there. Snow and ice covered roads are harder to navigate – whether you’re turning, stopping or accelerating – so you need to be travelling slower to maintain control of your vehicle.
- Leave earlier. You’re going to be driving more slowly, so allow some extra time and avoid rushing.
- Don’t tailgate. Tailgating is when you follow the car in front of you too closely. You shouldn’t be doing it anyway as it’s dangerous in the best weather, but when the ground is wet or icy, it becomes more difficult to stop. You’ll need the extra room.
- If you find yourself starting to slide or skid, slowly take your foot off the accelerator. Don’t slam on the breaks as this will likely make the slide worse. If you start to spin, steer in the direction you want to go. Newer model cars will likely have stability controls to help you get back on track.
- Hills can be tricky. Hitting the gas too hard as you go up can cause your wheels to spin and the vehicle to lose traction. Also, avoid stopping on a hill. You want the forward momentum to carry you up.
- Keep your headlights on so others can see you.
- If you get stuck, don’t just spin the tires. Rock the vehicle back and forth while in the lowest gear to get unstuck.
If you can avoid driving in wintry weather, do so. But if you must venture out, use care and caution to avoid hurting yourself or anyone else.
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