Snow driving and ice driving are the two road conditions that drivers tend to be most uncomfortable with. Weather changes can happen quickly, even on a short trip, increasing the risks faced by drivers and all the cars on the road. Driving in winter can be made easier, though, by taking a few precautions with the vehicle and driving style.
Here are some tips for winter driving safety
Preparing the Vehicle for Driving in Winter
Before tips for driving even come into play, the vehicle should be ready for winter road conditions and prepared in case a collision happens. Here’s how to get a vehicle safe for winter driving.
- Get a maintenance check-up early in the winter season to ensure the car is mechanically ready to handle any weather.
- Whenever heading out, make sure that the gas tank is at least half full.
- The front and rear windshields should have a full supply of windshield washer fluid, and spare fluid should be stored in the trunk.
- Remember to use winter tires or studded tires, and carry snow tire chains, just in case.
- Ensure all of the vehicle’s outside lights have bulbs that work.
- Clear the vehicle of snow and dirt, double-checking the windows, mirrors and license plate.
- Prepare a car emergency kit and keep it in the trunk at all times.
Once the car is ready to take on winter roads, the driver just needs to be prepared to adjust his driving style.
Snow Driving Tips
The Ontario Ministry of Transportation recommends three basic rules for winter driving safety: slow down, stay alert, and stay in control. Here are some tips for snow driving.
- Favorable road conditions call for drivers to follow the two-second rule, marking their distance behind the vehicle ahead by two seconds. In winter, drivers should keep at least four seconds between their vehicle and the one ahead.
- Slow down much earlier than what’s required for a dry, clear road.
- Accelerate slowly, too.
- Avoid sudden braking, turning the wheel, or acceleration.
- Slow down for corners well before the road starts to turn.
- Don’t use cruise control.
Winter drivers should also stay on well-traveled roads, and check the road conditions before heading out on even a short journey.
Ice Driving Tips
Remember that ice can be invisible on roads, so if the weather is cold enough for it, assume it’s there. Overpasses, bridges, and areas in the shade are more likely to be covered in ice, so be especially careful when driving through them. Follow the same guidelines for snow driving.
If the car skids, the driver should look in the direction he/she wants the car to go, and then steer that way. This is also known as “driving into the skid.” When skidding on ice on a straight road, shift to neutral or push in the clutch.
Winter driving safety can’t be guaranteed, but preparing the vehicle and remembering the rules for snow driving and ice driving can help keep all cars on the road safe.