Every week there’s another snowstorm moving across the east coast, covering everything in its path with seemingly-endless winter. While we may not be able to stop the weather from hitting, we can at least prepare ourselves from the dangers of slick and icy commutes with some highly-recommended snow driving tips.
- Increase your following distance. Many drivers travel right behind the car ahead when traffic begins to slow down. Always leave plenty of space between you and the car in front of you, especially if visibility is a problem.
- Drive at a slow, constant speed. Braking is more difficult in slippery conditions, so it is better to travel at a constant pace and avoid sudden stops.
- Slow and steady. In manual cars, lower gears will give the car better traction. Even if you are driving an automatic, you can get better grip by slowing down and avoiding sudden braking.
- Black ice alert. Black ice, a layer of clear ice coating the asphalt, is almost invisible to drivers and can form under snow, fog, or even freezing rain. Travel carefully on overpasses and bridges, which tend to freeze before the rest of the roadway.
- Slipping and braking. Flooded road surfaces can cause hydroplaning, so it is best to stay under the speed limit during a sudden downpour. If you lose control and have anti-lock brakes, keep your foot firmly on the brake pedal until traction returns; if you do not have anti-lock brakes, pump the brake pedal rapidly.
- Control the skid. Avoid using cruise control in wet or slippery weather, as you are more likely to lose control in a skid. If your car starts to skid on the road, don't brake—the force may cause the car to spin. Instead, turn the wheel so that your car is pointing in the direction you want to go, and brake gradually when the wheels regain their grip.
- Locate your fog lights. Many vehicles are equipped with fog lights, although drivers are often unaware of them. High-beam headlights can reflect off the fog, making visibility worse; using fog lamps or even standard low-beam headlights will help cut down the glare.
- Use all your senses. If you cannot safely stop driving in heavy fog, slow your pace and use the road markings to stay in your lane. If you can’t see the traffic, you may be able to hear it: turn off your radio and roll your windows down partway for sound cues.
Help keep your family members safe by sending them a link to this article on Facebook or Google+. Even if they’ve heard a few snow driving tips before, the one that surprises them could save their life!