5 Safe Winter Driving Tips For Driving In Snow & Ice

winter driving tips how to drive in snow and ice

As winter sets, most of the U.S. will begin to see snow and ice on roads and highways.

While most Americans will not experience an accident due to road conditions this winter, over 136,000 people were injured in an accident this winter due to hazardous road conditions.

Image Source: http://icyroadsafety.com/fatalitystats.shtml

Driving in the winter can increase the chances of an accident on the road, but you can take steps to increase the chances that you will arrive at your destination safely this winter.

1. Keep Temperature Changes In Mind

As the temperature begins to drop, you should keep an eye on your local weather reports.

Ice and other hazardous road conditions will develop after the temperature changes, and you should keep any recent temperature changes in mind before you begin driving for the day.

Along with recent temperature changes, you should be extra careful when driving if the outdoor temperature is near 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Since water freezes at 32 degrees Fahrenheit, road conditions will make a turn for the worse as water freezes or thaws near that magic number.

This temperature is critical to know as it is usually a sign that icing will occur on the road. That said, technology has made it easy to look out for this temperature range. 

You should use extra caution when heading out if you notice the temperature is nearing 32 degrees Fahrenheit. This knowledge should direct your level of caution, and you can use the below tips to help drive safely this winter.

As the temperature drops, you should also prepare your car’s safety equipment. Your car should have food, water, Hi-Viz Apparel, and triangle reflector warning kits to keep your car and passengers safe if you need to pull over on the road. 

2. Determine When/How Ice Usually Forms On The Road

Unlike driving in snow or rain, you have few options to improve driving connections when traveling on ice. This is because ice prevents your tires from grabbing the road.

Since your tires are separated from the road, you will have limited steering control and your ability to stop.

You should leave lots of room between you and the car in front of you. While driving, you should pay special attention to sections of the roadway where water may build up like curves in the road or near construction sites.

In these areas, you should expect water to pool on the roadway and as the temperature drops, this water could freeze to form ice patches.

Even if the temperature returns to above 32 degrees Fahrenheit, you should be wary of ice forming if the temperature dips again. In this situation, water can refreeze and cause dangerous driving conditions.

3. Avoid Black Ice At All Costs

Black ice is one of the most hazardous parts of driving in cold weather. This type of ice is especially hazardous for drivers because it is slicker and harder to spot.

Black ice forms as ice thaws and refreezes in a short period, and this constant thawing and the refreezing cycle will get black ice to form, and this type of ice will prevent your tires from gripping the road.

In addition to the hazardous driving conditions created by black ice, this type of ice is also harder for motorists to spot since black ice does not reflect light like normal ice.

Since black ice causes so many issues, and it is difficult to spot on the road, you should avoid driving after temperature fluctuations and try to stay on roads that are maintained by your city.

4. Think About The Roads That You Are Driving On

One of the best ways you can arrive safely this winter while driving is to think about the condition and maintenance of the roads that you are driving on.

Defensive driving starts with your ability to understand your surroundings, and you should avoid roads like:

  • Highly trafficked roads after it has rained or snowed. Precipitation increases the likelihood that roads will develop ice on them.
  • Roadways near construction sites tend to change paths, and these areas can have more accidents than other roadways. As a result, you should avoid construction sites when driving in the winter.
  • Don’t travel on roads that have not been maintained by your state and city transportation departments. You should check when roads are shoveled and salted, and plan your driving around this regular maintenance.
  • Try to avoid bridges and overpasses after it snows since these structures tend to accumulate more ice in cold weather.

5. General Tips To Consider When Driving On Ice

Last but not least, let’s go over some general tips to consider when driving in these conditions.

Perhaps the most obvious tip is to go slow on the road. Here are some general tips that you should follow when driving this winter:

  • Leave lots of space between you and other vehicles. Since you will have limited traction on ice, you should double the following distance between you and other cars on the road.
  • Be sure to accelerate and decelerate slowly. You can reduce spin-outs and improve handling by slowly accelerating and decelerating. Don’t be in a hurry when driving in the winter or on roads that could have ice on them.
  • Don’t stop if you can help it. Your car will gain inertia as you travel, and you should try to limit the number of stops you need to make during your drive.
  • This means that you should try to avoid roads with lots of stop signs or traffic lights since you will need to apply brakes in these locations, and this could increase the chances that you will lose control.

Driving Safe Through Cold Weather & Icy Roads

If you live and drive in a region that experiences snow and cold weather, then it is inevitable that you will have to drive in snow and ice this winter. You can use the above tips to ensure you reach your destination safely this year.

Be sure to know the roads that you are driving on, keep your distance from other cars, and plan your route based on the maintenance of the roads you will travel on and recent temperature shifts.

Drive safe and pay attention to the signs and you will increase the chances of driving safely this winter!

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Author: Chris Giarratana

Chris is a Digital Media Strategy and AdWords management consultant in Orlando, FL. He develops marketing strategies for small businesses, researches emerging technologies, and enjoys studying transportation issues.

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