Snowy, slushy, or icy conditions are responsible for 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes each year. Fifteen percent happen during snowfall or sleet.
Winter driving can be dangerous if you don’t know what you’re doing. Conditions change quickly and it’s often difficult to spot patches of ice or other hazards.
This article will provide you with five winter driving safety tips to prevent you from wrecking your car or sustaining an injury.
Keep reading below and we’ll discuss prevention techniques, maintaining your car for the winter, how to drive through snow or ice, safe following distances, and how you should consider taking a defensive driving course.
- Avoid Winter Driving if You Can
What’s the easiest thing you can do to be safe in winter conditions? Stay home!
If you wake up in the morning and hear that there has been heavy snowfall or the chances of ice, don’t leave home unless it’s absolutely necessary. Nothing is worth risking your life over. You can use a sick day, connect to work virtually, and put off important errands you have to run.
Driving through snow is difficult enough but if you hit a patch of ice it’s easy to lose control. You could collide with another vehicle, building, or run off the road.
In the most severe cases of bad weather, city, county, or state officials prefer that drivers stay home to get out of the way of plows.
- Winter Driving Safety Starts With Maintaining Your Car
Safety begins with prevention. If you drive frequently, and sometimes in bad conditions, it’s important to stay on top of your vehicle’s maintenance. The better shape your car is in, the better it’ll handle the elements.
Here are some tips for preparing your car for winter:
- Regularly check your battery because cold temperatures reduce cranking power
- Replace wiper blades at least twice a year
- Use an ice scraper or defrost mode to clear snow off all windows
- Make sure you’re using the right oil, brands with a “W” in the title to show it’s good for the winter
- Don’t put off buying new all-season tires when the tread begins to wear
While these are the most significant things to maintain for the winter, you should also regularly fill your windshield wiper fluid and check your lights.
It’s recommended to drive with your headlights on in thick snowy conditions. The last thing you want is for your lights not to work or be dull.
- Driving Safety Tips: Go Slower in Rough Conditions
This tip seems like common sense but so many people try to speed through winter conditions to get home safe. They may drive a newer car or one that is well-maintained. But, they often overestimate their car’s ability to handle snow and ice.
Going slow will prevent your car from slipping on ice and it’ll give you time to react quickly. The first thing you should do if your car locks up and starts to slide is take your foot off of the acceleration.
The car will naturally slow down allowing the tires to regain traction. During a slide, you can also turn the wheels in the direction you want the car to go. This will help guide the vehicle.
Gently tap your brakes (or apply steady pressure to ABS) to help the tires reconnect with the ground.
Most importantly, don’t turn the wheel suddenly or try to make any big maneuvers until you’ve regained control. Doing that could put you in an uncontrollable spin.
- Keep Six Car Lengths When Driving in the Snow
Anytime you drive it’s important to maintain a safe distance between cars. You need time to safely stop or turn if there is an accident or hazard in the road.
Driving distance is even more important in the winter. Experts recommend that you keep approximately six to 10 car lengths away from others while winter driving. It should equate to about eight to 10 seconds of stoppage time.
This may sound excessive but you will need that time to stop slowly. Road conditions can change every few feet based on traffic, sun exposure, or temperature changes.
Keep in mind that driving momentum can both help and hurt you. You may get stuck if you come to a full stop. Therefore, it’s easier to coast around hazards. This same momentum can also be dangerous if you are about to crash into something.
The good news is going slow enough and having high-quality tires will allow you to gently maneuver your car to safety.
- Hone Your Skills With a Defensive Driving Course
Are you new to driving or just relocated to a city that gets a lot of snow? Defensive driving courses are a great way to learn new skills or brush up on some you haven’t used in years.
Most people associate defensive driving courses as a punishment for getting a ticket. They are a way to get points off your license, but they can also improve your overall driving skills. And, in many cases, can drop your insurance rates.
Defensive driving courses from Aceable teach:
- The dangers of driving under the influence
- Accident statistics
- In-depth information on safety equipment
- Crash-prevention training
- State driving laws
- Interpreting road signs and symbols
You can take a defensive driving course in-person. Or, thanks to technology, it can be completed through a mobile app. This allows you to finish the course at your own pace from anywhere.
Stay Safe This Winter!
We hope this article taught you more about winter driving safety. The two most important pieces of advice are to avoid driving in snow or ice and to make sure your vehicle is in top working shape.
Follow the tips we provided above on how to drive in the winter or sign-up for a defensive driving course to brush up on your skills.
Looking for more informative articles on driving safety or car maintenance? Check out the rest of our site to learn about conducting safety checks, keeping your car safe from damage, and essential accessories for the winter.