Any time you drive, you must drive cautiously and make sure that your car is properly prepared for the trip. With winter upon us, caution and preparedness become even more important for drivers. Here are some tips to help you safely prepare for and drive in snow and icy conditions.
Preparing to Drive
Do not use hot water to de-ice your windows; hot water will shatter your windshield. The first thing you should do is start your car and turn on the front and rear defrosters to help soften the ice and snow, recommends Geico Insurance Company. The defrosters will help warm up your car while you prepare your car for the road. In order to avoid exposure to carbon monoxide, check that your tailpipe is free of snow whenever your car is running. Use a plastic ice scraper to remove ice from your car because this type of scraper is less likely to damage or scratch the surface of the glass. Do not use your windshield wipers to help remove the ice and snow; use them only after you have completely cleared off the snow and ice. Make sure that you remove snow and ice from your roof, trunk, hood, mirrors, head and tail lights, and license plates. Because the roads will be covered with salt and slush, make sure that you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid before you start driving. Lastly, shovel around your wheels and clear away any snow from under the front and rear bumpers, suggests Geico.
Driving in Snow
When you first get on the road, test your brakes to gauge how they react in the conditions, recommends AARP. Drive slowly so you have enough time to accelerate, brake, and turn because all of these maneuvers take longer on snow covered roads. The normal following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds, according to AAA. In order to regain traction and avoid skids, apply the gas slowly to accelerate, suggests AAA. Take time to slow down for a stoplight, but do not stop if you can avoid it because there is a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while rolling, according to AAA. Consequently, if you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, you should perform this maneuver. Drive in the tire tracks of other vehicles; there will be more traction in these areas. Be careful when changing lanes, suggests AARP. The area between lanes may have a buildup of crunchy ice. Change lanes gradually, while firmly holding the steering wheel. Avoid passing snow plows. The snow plow drivers can have limited visibility, and the road in front of the plow could be in worse condition, according to Travelers Insurance Company. Additionally, use caution when snow banks limit your view of oncoming traffic. If your car starts to skid or slide, take your foot off the gas, advises MetLife Insurance Company. Next, slowly turn the wheel in the direction you want the car to travel. If your vehicle has antilock brakes, apply firm pressure until you regain control. You can steer during this maneuver, according to MetLife. As your car spins, work to regain a neutral steering position. You have more control when your tires face the same direction.
Driving on Black Ice
Black ice forms when the air temperature is warmer than the pavement, which causes moisture to rapidly freeze and creates a thin, transparent layer of ice on the road, according to a publication of the National Safety Council. Be especially careful when driving on bridges, overpasses and tunnels, and in the early morning when the air temperature rises faster than pavement temperature, recommends the NSC. You should never brake while driving on ice because applying pressure to your brakes will cause the vehicle to skid. Brake before you reach the black ice. When driving on potentially icy roads, keep at least a three-car distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
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