December 13th, 2013
When the weather turns foul, more of us tend to stay indoors and only venture out when necessary. Unfortunately, winter weather can bring snow and ice that can make driving trickier and more dangerous. Following a few of these winter weather driving tips may help reduce your risk of getting in an accident and raising your auto insurance rate.
Wait for snow plows
If you have a little time to spare, it can be better to travel after snow plows and trucks have had a chance to clear the streets of snow. With less snow on the ground, you have less of a chance of sliding and losing control of your vehicle. You should also account for extra time to get to your destination, as there may be delays from other accidents, people driving slower or snow obstructions.
One of the biggest contributors to winter accidents is driving too fast. Braking suddenly can cause a car to slide on ice, especially those with inadequate grips on tires. Slowing down will dramatically decrease the dangers of driving in winter weather. You should also leave yourself extra space to slow down and come to a stop. When coming to a stop, be sure to hit the brakes gently instead of rapidly, as you will be less likely to skid. If the wheels lock and you aren't slowing down, ease off the brake. Another great tip is to avoid using cruise control on snowy streets.
It is pretty common for cars to skid on ice, but it can be made a lot worse by the way you react. Even cars that are equipped with four-wheel drive can run into trouble in the winter. If your car starts to skid on ice or snow, take your foot off the accelerator and turn the wheels the direction you want the front wheels to go. If you are skidding from the rear wheels, turn into the direction they are sliding. Keep your foot on the brake if you have anti-lock brakes. For standard brakes, pump them gently.
If your front wheels are skidding, ease off the accelerator and don't try to steer right away, as this could cause you to spin out. Sideways wheels will slow the vehicle down until you can regain traction and accelerate in the direction you want to go.
If your car gets stuck in a snow bank, don't try spinning the wheels quickly, as this could dig you in deeper. Gently use the accelerator instead and try turning your wheels back and forth to get out. If you are still stuck, clear snow away from under the tires and pour sand or kitty litter to get some traction.
Having good traction is key for driving in snow and on icy streets. Check to make sure your tires are properly inflated and have enough tread on them to handle winter weather.
As a basic rule of thumb, keep your lights on when the weather is bad. At the beginning of the winter season, check that your headlights are bright enough to help you see through snow or rain and that other cars will be able to see you.