Snow… whether it’s falling, drifting, or turning to ice on the roadway, it can be hazardous. Winter driving requires more focus and different strategies than at other times of the year. Follow these best practices to ensure you arrive safely at your destination.
Never warm up a vehicle in a garage or other enclosed space. Carbon monoxide accumulates to dangerous levels quickly.
Keep sightlines clear
Before beginning your trip, remove all snow and ice from your windshield, all of your windows, and your side view mirrors. Simply scratching out a small opening on your windshield to peer through is unsafe. You should also remove any large accumulations of snow from the hood and roof of your vehicle, as wind on the roadway can turn them into a blinding temporary whiteout.
Accelerate and decelerate slowly
Maintain traction by depressing your gas pedal and applying your brakes as gradually as possible.
Increase your following distance
The safe following distance you use on dry pavement (ideally 2-3 seconds or more) should be at least doubled on snowy roads. When roads are icy, add even more distance between you and the car ahead of you.
In general, drive more slowly
Every action you take on snow-covered roads takes longer, from starting and stopping to changing lanes and turning. Even when it feels as though you have adequate traction, slower speeds are the way to go.
Avoid stopping on inclines
Even a small amount of forward momentum can keep you from getting stuck, or worse yet, sliding backward. If traffic ahead of you slows significantly or stops, use up the following distance between you and the car ahead of you as slowly as possible.
Carry momentum into hills
Don’t accelerate as you head up a hill. Doing so may result in spinning wheels and loss of control. Instead, accelerate before you reach the hill, if you can do so safely, and use the added momentum to help you reach the crest.
Brake gently going downhill
Your descent on a snow-covered road should begin as slowly as is reasonable. As gravity causes you to accelerate, apply your brakes as gently as possible to prevent sliding and loss of control.
Plan ahead and stay at home
Whenever possible, stay off icy or snowy roads. While you may be an excellent winter weather driver, those around you may not.