Winter is here in full force, and its time to refresh your knowledge of all the winter driving knowledge youve forgotten over during the warmer months. Here are a few winter driving tips you can use to start off your year safely.
Unfamiliar with the term rubbernecking? It refers to drivers who slow down to gawk at something happening on the roadnormally accidents. Rubbernecking is dangerous enough on dry roads, but when you throw in some ice and snow, it becomes exponentially more dangerous.
When you slow down to look at an accident, youd better hope the cars behind you are paying attention and that they dont hit ice while trying to slow down, otherwise the emergency vehicles will have another accident to take care ofpotentially a multiple car pileup, since thats what icy conditions tend to lead to.
Give yourself plenty of following distance. One of the biggest reasons people get into accidents in the winter is because they tailgate. Dont add yourself to those statistics. The proper following distance on dry roads is 2-3 seconds. In the winter, that space is more than tripled to 8-10 seconds.
Make sure you give yourself that room, because if you cant stop in time, you could end up in an accident. And even if its just a small fender-bender that puts you off to the side of the road, youre still right next to an icy road and if another driver loses control of his vehicle, your fender-bender could turn into a more serious accident. You dont want a totaled car to send you to a dealer like Diamond Honda in order to buy another car, so dont follow too closely.
Whenever you get behind the wheel of your car and theres snow and/or ice on the road (or its currently snowing), slow down. Even if you think your car can handle the conditions because you have four wheel drive, curb your inner speed demon. All-wheel drive wont help you at all if youre sliding across ice, and by then its too late to wish youd been going slower.
Another thing to keep in mind is to avoid using cruise control. You might be tempted to use it to keep your speed down if you have a habit of driving too fast. Resist that temptation. Cruise control slows your reaction time, and if you hit ice or water on the road, your car will try to maintain the speed and youll lose control of the car faster. Between both of these, the odds of you getting into an accident are much higher.
Give yourself plenty of time to come to a complete stop. You dont want any chance of rear-ending the car in front of you at the intersection or, even worse, sliding right into the intersection. It doesnt matter if youre taking a freeway exit or coming up to a four-stop in your neighborhoodstart braking early so you can guarantee youre stopped in time. If youre driving in the city, start braking a city block early, and if youre going faster, like on a freeway or a highway, brake even earlier than that, like at the start of the exit or even before the exit.
The proper way to brake in winter conditions varies by what kind of brakes your car has. Most cars made in the last decade or more have antilock brakes, and with those cars you want to apply a slow and steady pressure on the brake. Dont stomp on the pedal, and dont pump the brake.
Driving up or down a hill on icy roads can be scary if you cant remember the right way to do it. Fortunately, its not as difficult as you might think.
If youre going uphill, you want to gain momentum before you hit the incline because you might not be able to gain any traction on the hill if theres ice on the road. Dont apply the brakes on the uphill stretchif you slow down, you might not make it all the way up. If youre going downhill, slow down before you start the descent. Coast down the hill, and try to avoid braking; however, if its a long hill, you might have to tap them every once in a while to keep your speed down.
The most important thing to remember while driving in the winter is to stay calm. With that mindset and remembering these tips, youll be more likely to stay in control of your vehicle, keeping you and your passengers as safe as possible.