Driving in severe winter conditions, demands a set of essential skills for all drivers. Too often, however, there are drivers that choose not to alter their driving habits in poor weather conditions and on snow-covered or icy roads.
Driving in poor winter conditions is particularly risky due to poor traction, visibility, and the increased unpredictability of other drivers on the road. Knowledge of preventative safety skills and experience in these kind of conditions can truly separate the best from the rest.
SAFE WINTER DRIVING TIPS
1. SLOW DOWN
Most at fault accidents, especially in winter, have excessive speed for the road conditions to thank. Take whatever time is necessary for you to arrive at your destination safely. This rule should ALWAYS top the list.
2. SNOW TIRES
Snow tires are best in winter driving conditions. Winter tires have rubber compounds formulated to stay soft and pliable for better traction in cold weather, something that all-season tries don’t have.
3. ENSURE ALL SYSTEMS ARE GO
Before you leave, ensure everything is in tip top shape. Make sure the heater, defroster, wipers, and lights are working, wiper fluid is full and that your windows and mirrors are completely clean.
4. KEEP LIGHTS CLEAN
More than ever, when visibility is poor, it’s important that all of your lights are clean so that you can be seen. Stop in a safe place when you can and clear your lights of snow and ice.
5. KEEP A SAFE DISTANCE
Leave plenty of room between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. A general rule of thumb for a safe following distance is often cited as 3-seconds. Of course that’s in good driving conditions. In poor weather conditions start by tripling that and go from there.
Avoid overusing your brakes and ensure your entire unit is ‘straight’ on the road before using them. This is especially true if you’re pulling a trailer. It’s very easy to jackknife especially if the trailer is empty.
7. TRAVEL LONE WOLF
Traffic seems to move in ‘packs’ on the highway. Find a safe way to get away from the pack and travel alone, with the goal being to maximize the distance around your vehicle.
8. DON’T STOP ON THE SHOULDER
In low visibility situations, when driving in winter, especially ‘blinding snow’, other vehicles can mistake your position for being on the road and as a result, may slam into the back of your vehicle.
9. PACK WINTER ESSENTIALS
Besides the mandatory roadside emergency kit, pack additional warm clothing for safety. You never know when or perhaps how long you may be required to come face to face with the elements.
10. DON’T BE A HERO
When the road conditions are severe, you need to recognize that it’s dangerous to be out there. It can be a tough decision but you’ll never regret not getting into a serious accident or worse. Find a place to get off the road safely and wait until conditions are safe.
A smart winter driver always uses common sense and sound judgment. There aren’t any driving jobs worth giving your life for. Do what you need to do, in order to stay safe.
Safety ALWAYS RULES.
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