Snow, sleet, ice and slush make the roads a mess during the winter months. When a winter drive is necessary, here are some tips to stay safe.
Prepare Your Car
There are several ways to prepare a vehicle for winter driving. Installing snow tires provides a car with extra traction on messy roads. Snow tires have deep treads that can grab snow and slush and provide a vehicle with greater stability. Putting chains on standard tires can work as well.
In addition to specialized tires, windshield washer fluid designed for winter precipitation can help improve visibility while driving. Winter washer fluid can break through the slush and ice that builds up on a windshield, allowing drivers to see the road ahead.
Knowing how to drive in inclement conditions is another key to staying safe on winter roads. Icy conditions mean that a car likely needs more time to come to a stop. Slamming on the brakes on an ice-covered road will make a car skid. In bumper-to-bumper traffic, leaving extra space between vehicles provides the car with the additional room it needs to come to a complete stop. Driving more slowly allows drivers the chance to brake gently, which decreases the risk of skidding out on slick roads.
Know How to Adjust
If a skid occurs, it is important to know how to handle it. In a rear skid, which is often called “fish tailing,” a driver should take his foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction of the rear skid. If the car starts to skid the other direction, turn the wheel gently to match the move. If the vehicle has anti-lock brakes (ABS), apply steady pressure to slow the vehicles. With standard breaks, pump the breaks to slow the car.
In a front-end skid, a driver should remove her foot from the accelerator and switch the car into neutral. Let the car skid; the car will achieve traction, at which time a driver can steer. Put the car in drive and proceed slowly.