Winter Driving Tips
- Accidents are common in winter, but there are steps you can take to increase your safety.
- Be extra cautious
- Reduced speed and increase following distance
- Practice driving in slippery conditions so you are prepared and comfortable
- Anticipate stops by slowing down gradually, well ahead of intersections
- Allow for more than enough time to stop safely
- Plan ahead of time for lane changes
- Signal your intentions to traffic behind you
- Use a light foot on the gas and avoid over-accelerating
One of the most dangerous winter driving hazards is the skid. If it happens at a high speed, the result can be deadly. Most skids can be avoided by simply adjusting to driving conditions and knowing how to recover from a skid.
Skids are most likely to occur on curves and turns; slow down ahead of time to prepare for them. Then, when in the curve, accelerate slowly and steer steadily with no abrupt change in direction and, especially, no abrupt braking. Driving smoothly in general can help prevent skids.
Skid Safety Techniques
If you go into a skid, remember two critical rules:
- Don’t steer against the skid.
- Avoid using the brakes.
Immediately take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction the vehicle is sliding until you feel recovery of traction, then slowly straighten the wheels until you recover complete control. If the back of your vehicle is fishtailing to the right, turn the wheel gently in that direction until your car recovers.
If braking is necessary before traction is recovered, apply the brake pedal cautiously so you do not lock the wheels and intensify the skid. You will also have better brake control in a skid situation if your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes.
You should constantly be on the lookout for areas that might induce skidding, such as unexpected ice patches or piles of wet leaves, which tend to be found in shady areas or on overpasses. Keep in mind that wet ice, warmed by the sun, is twice as dangerous as completely frozen ice. Be especially alert whenever there is any kind of precipitation during cold weather.
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