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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Top Tips for Driving in Winter Storms

Original Article

Almost anyone who has ever driven in the snow should be familiar with the queasy feeling you get when you try to stop and begin to skid towards a curb or car.  Driving in snow is something that is best avoided, but often unavoidable at some point during the winter.  As we approach the snow season, we felt that a few tips for safety on the roads would be helpful for all to review and be reminded of.
The best tip we can share is probably the most fun; find an empty, open parking lot after the first big snow of the year and spin some donuts!  While this doesn’t sound like the type of thing you would tell your teenage driver to do, it can be very helpful to learn how your car handles in the snow.  Learning how to spin the car and recover from spins is one of the best ways to be prepared while driving on the road.  Still use caution while you are practicing and be aware of light poles, hidden objects, or curbs.

Now, when driving on icy or snowy roads, remember the following tips and best practices:
  1. Slow Down – Be very cognizant of your speeds on the road and keep three times the normal distance between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake Gently – Never slam on the brakes, if you can avoid it.  If your wheels lock up, ease up on the brake
  3. Lights On – Make sure that you have your lights on so that others are aware of you
  4. Low Gears – Use the lower gears, they help to gain and keep traction, especially on hills or steep roads
  5. No Cruise Control – Don’t be lazy, it isn’t worth the risk.
  6. Stay Behind the Plows – Don’t pass in front of plows or sanding trucks.  The drivers of these vehicles have limited visibility and the road in front of them is much worse than behind them.
  7. 4×4 Myth – Just because you have a 4×4 or AWD, you vehicle cannot handle all conditions.  Be extremely careful thinking you can go anywhere or do anything in your big, off-road truck!
If your wheels skid…
  1. Let Off the Gas – Take you foot off of the accelerator.
  2. Turn Into the Slide – If you are sliding left, turn left. As you recover, you may start to slide to the other side, so make sure that you know steer the new directions.  You may go back and forth a couple of times before you can get back under control.
  3. Brake! – If you have standard brakes, gently pump them.  If your car has anti-lock brakes (ABS), don’t pump the brakes.  Apply steady pressure and realize that it is normal to feel the brakes pulse.
If you get stuck…
  1. Don’t Spin the Wheels – This only digs you in deeper and makes is harder to get out. Lightly touch on the gas and ease your way out.
  2. Turn the Wheels – Turn the wheels back and forth to get snow out of the way. Also, consider using a shovel to dig out some of the snow.
  3. Rock the Boat – Sometimes, it can help to rock back and forth to gain a little momentum.
  4. Sand the Ground – A little sand, gravel, salt, even kitty litter, can help your wheels gain some traction.
Winter Emergency Preparedness comes in all forms, and being ready for the winter road conditions counts.  The above information comes from the National Safety Council and Weather.com, so please listen to it.  We hope that no one has any issues this year on the winter roads.  Please be extra careful and remember so of these basic tips to keep safe. Emergency Preparedness tips need to be shared, so please pass this along to your friends, family, and neighbors so that we all can have a fantastic winter.