Even though Spring is around the corner, we still have a handful of weeks of winter weather to endure. In fact, today is one of those snowy, icy days.
Regardless of the weather, many of us have places to be and things to do. If you must brave winter roads, I advise you to remember the ageless moral of the tortoise and hare: Slow and steady wins the race.
From snow blizzards to the dreaded black ice, the hazards of winter roadways must be negotiated carefully if you and your vehicle are to arrive at your destination safely. Even with the use of de-icers and sand, your chances of sliding away into a ditch, barrier or another car are great. Beyond keeping your vehicle in top winterized condition, caution is the rule of the winter road.
Here are a few helpful winter safe driving tips direct from the experts at AAA:
- Accelerate and decelerate slowly. To regain traction and avoid skids, apply the gas slowly. And remember that it takes longer to slow down on icy roads, so allow extra time to brake before a stop.
- Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads, including accelerating, stopping, and turning. Allow extra driving time. Driving slowly also gives you time to maneuver.
- The safest following distance on normal dry pavement is three to four seconds. On ice or snow, allow eight to 10 seconds of following time. You need the increased margin of safety in order to provide the longer stopping distances required on ice and snow.
- Know your brakes. Threshold braking is the best way to stop, regardless of the type of brakes on your vehicle. 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. If a wheel locks, release the brake and reapply.
- Don’t stop if you can avoid it. On slippery roads, it’s much easier to accelerate while the car is still rolling than to start moving from a full stop. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
- Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on a slippery hill will cause your wheels to spin. Increase speed before you reach the hill, and let that energy carry you to the top. If possible, allow the car in front of you to crest a steep incline before attempting it yourself.
- Never stop while going up a hill. Starting from a full stop on a hill can be impossible. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
If you can, stay home and snuggle up. But if you must venture out, take your time and be safe!