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How to Drive Safely in Snow and Ice

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Driving on snow and ice can be scary. Drivers can become intimidated and fearful, which causes them to tense. Even a driver who does not realize that driving in snow or on ice bothers them may notice the muscles of their shoulders, neck, and arms being tensed up and that their grip has tightened on the wheel. This is a common reaction to driving in winter weather conditions.

When motorists learn ways to drive safely in snow, it helps them to approach the task more relaxed and confident. These winter driving tips can help the driver know how to navigate the icy and snowy roads in the safest way possible and reduce the stress caused by driving in winter.

Before leaving home, check road conditions and traffic reports. Winter weather conditions can cause road closures and accidents. By checking in advance, drivers can avoid trouble spots and find the safest route to travel.

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Remove any snow and ice from the windscreen before leaving. Some motorists try to take a short cut by pouring hot water over icy windscreens, but this can cause the windscreen to crack.(2) Make sure you have a de-icing screenwash to help keep the windscreen free of ice on the journey. (2)

It’s always a good idea to have an emergency kit in the car in case the car gets stuck or breaks down. A proper emergency kit can help keep the motorist safe. Drivers should charge their cell phones before leaving home, so that they can call for help if necessary. Add the appropriate emergency contacts to the cell phone contact list. Include numbers for any auto club and local police in case assistance is needed. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

If you can avoid going out, stay home. While a person can feel isolated or stir crazy during the dark, cold winter months, taking unneeded trips into snow and ice is an unnecessary risk. (3) If you must go out, allow extra time for the trip since driving in winter conditions can take longer. Rushing to get somewhere adds extra stress and can lead to accidents by worrying more about getting there quickly rather than taking extra precautions due to snow and ice on the roads.

Before drivers leave the home, they should check there tyre pressure and the depth of the tyre tread. For safety reasons, the car’s tyres should have at least 3mm of tread.(3) Tyre pressure decreases naturally in cold weather.(4) Be sure to make sure the tyre is correctly inflated. Drivers can ask a tyre technician or mechanic to do this for them if they are unsure what pressure the tyre should have and how to inflate them properly.

Winter Driving Tips

Drivers should accelerate gently and drive slower than usual. A driver will find controlling the car easier if they are not travelling as fast as usual. Remember that speed limits are the desired speed for dry road conditions. Driving too slowly can mean less momentum which can make it difficult to drive in snow. Find a safe, comfortable speed and maintain a safe stopping distance. (1)

Stopping a car on an icy road can take as much as ten times more distance than stopping on a dry road.(3) When driving in winter conditions, always leave plenty of extra space between your car and the car in front of you. One guideline to check to see if you are leaving enough space in winter is to count 20 seconds from the time the car in front of you passes and object on the side of the road.(3) If your car gets to the object before 20 seconds passes, slow down a bit and allow more room.

Be sure to use headlights if driving in fog, snow, or rain. This helps the driver’s visibility and makes it easier for other drivers to see the car.

Avoid oversteering and over-braking. When drivers are tense about driving in snow, they grip the steering wheel tightly and tend to oversteer. Try to relax and drive smoothly. Gently brake and steer as necessary. Sudden braking or steering can lessen the tyres’ grip on the road and cause the driver to lose control.(5)

A driver that starts to skid on ice or snow should turn into the skid to regain control.(1) If the car skids and drifts to the right, turn the steering wheel to the right.(1) Avoid the urge to stomp on the brakes.

If the front tyres start to skid on snow or ice during a turn, the driver is most likely to regain control by straightening the steering wheel and not applying any pressure to the brake or accelerator.(5)

A driver may find themselves driving on black ice without realizing it. If the steering is light, you may be driving on ice. To be safe, gently reduce pressure on the accelerator to reduce speed.(6)

With proper precautions and adjusting driving practices to account for ice and snow on the roads, drivers can travel safely even in weather conditions.

 

Resources:

1 "Advice For Safe Driving In Snow | RAC Drive". Rac.co.uk. N. p., 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

2. "How To Drive In Snow And Icy Weather". BBC News. N. p., 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

3 Robbins, Alex. "How To Drive Safely In Snow And Ice". The Telegraph. N. p., 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

4 "Cold Weather Tips | Care Guide | | Learn And Share | MICHELIN Find Your Car Tyres In 1 Min With Michelin's Car Tyre Widget | MICHELIN Ireland ". Michelin.ie. N. p., 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

5 "Driving In Winter: Top Tips For Driving In Snow And Ice". Carbuyer. N. p., 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

6 "HGV Driving Safety Tips For Snow And Ice At Fta.Co.Uk | FTA". Fta.co.uk. N. p., 2016. Web. 22 Dec. 2016.

 

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