Driving under any weather conditions presents a variety of perils. Driving in snow, sleet and ice during the winter months requires extra care and attention. Here are some safety tips to help you navigate through the winter driving season.
Plan your route ahead of time and know where you are going. Give yourself plenty of extra time to reach your destination and remember that arriving safely is more important than arriving on time.
Make sure that you are able to see and be seen. Clean all the snow and ice off your windshield, other windows, outside mirrors, lights and reflectors. Make sure your vehicle is equipped with good wiper blades.
Drive at a speed that is safe for weather conditions. Snow and ice covered roads require speed adjustments – slow down.
Increase your “following” distance and don’t tailgate. Heavy trucks require a longer stopping distance on slippery roads than passenger cars.
Brake before curves. All vehicles are particularly sensitive to over-powering, over-steering and over-braking on curves. Unseen hazards around the bend may require an evasive action, so turn your wheel slowly and smoothly, keep a consistent speed in the turn, and tap your brakes carefully if it’s necessary to slow down or stop.
Know whether your vehicle has an antilock brake system and learn how to use it properly. Antilock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel the wheels starting to lock up.
Use proper lights. Never drive with parking lights instead of headlights in winter’s early dusk and when poor visibility is evident. Parking lights can cause an oncoming driver to think you are farther away than you are. Keep headlights clean; dirty ones can greatly reduce your visibility at night.
Be prepared in case your vehicle breaks down or slides off the road. Have the following items on hand: a charged cell phone, a working flashlight, a shovel, an ice scraper, blankets, critical medicines and food/water. Stay with your vehicle, make sure the exhaust pipe is clear, only run the vehicle as much as necessary, and place a bright marker on the antenna.
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