Car accidents are the leading cause of fatalities during winter storms, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security. Understanding how to drive your car in winter conditions could mean the difference between getting stuck in a snow bank on the side of the highway (or worse) and safely making it to your destination. Here are eight tips you should keep in mind when driving in winter.
- Listen to the radio for news regarding accidents, road closures, and traffic situations before you leave your home. Call your local highway patrol if you can’t get this information on the radio.
- Plan your route to avoid any roads known to become hazardous during bad weather. If a road is blocked or closed, do not try to use it.
- Overpasses and bridges tend to freeze first. So, slow down and avoid abrupt changes in direction when approaching one.
- When driving, accelerate gradually, turn slowly, and brake early and progressively. You can avoid sudden rapid actions that could throw you in a spin by giving yourself plenty of space between you and the next car. Turns, stops, and lane changes should all be predicted far in advance.
- Avoid moving too slowly if there are a few inches of snow, as the car will need momentum to push through without getting stuck.
- Avoid driving near trucks. Because they are heavier than cars, stopping distances tend to be increased. Also, they’re more likely to spray snow and water into the opposite lane, decreasing your sight if you’re near enough.
- Don’t become overconfident and rely on your vehicle’s four or all-wheel drive to help you out of a situation. When all four wheels move instead of just two, more traction and force are generated, which allows for acceleration but not braking. Vehicles with AWD and 4WD are heavier than those with FWD and need more braking power and time to stop.
- Observe and be seen. In other words, keep your lights on when driving in the rain, snow, or fog.
Drive with Care
Driving on frozen roads is hard enough. Don’t make it harder by flooring your car or trying to show off. Drive carefully and apply the above tips to keep yourself and other road users safe. Check out TorqueDial for more information on driving and maintaining your car.