Tips for driving in the snow and wintry weather

When winter weather and snow hits road conditions can change quickly. While it’s always best to stay home during severe weather, AAA offered the following driving tips for motorists hitting the road when its snows:

Explore5 tips for driving on icy roads
  • Never warm up your vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage, and don’t leave your vehicle running unattended.
  • Drive slowly and be aware of traffic ahead of you. Every maneuver takes longer on snowy roads. Slow down even more if you see brake lights or fishtailing cars.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly is the best way to regain traction and avoid skids.
  • Don’t follow other vehicles as close as you would during clear, dry conditions. Your vehicle can’t slow down as quickly on slick roads, so increase your following distance by eight seconds or more. Try to keep at least one open space on the side of your vehicle in case you need to change lanes suddenly.
  • Be gentle with your steering, accelerating and breaking. Being too rough can affect your vehicle’s balance and increase the chances of skidding. Always try to steer, accelerate and brake gently.
  • Avoid braking on icy roads. Try to brake well ahead of stop signs and traffic lights and in clear sections of the road. Whether or not you have antilock brakes, the best way to stop is by keeping the heel of your foot on the floor and using the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t stop if you can avoid it. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes without getting too close to other vehicles, do it.
  • Pull over if visibility is limited or you feel at risk.
  • Don’t hit the brakes if your vehicle starts to skid. Slamming the brakes can make it worse. If you’re approaching a patch of ice, brake during the approach. Applying pressure to the brakes while on the ice will throw you into a skid. Ease off the accelerator or brake and steer in the direction that your want the front of your car to go.
  • Don’t use cruise control on slippery roads. A driver should always be in full control of their vehicle during poor conditions. Cruise control will cause motorists to lost the ability to transfer more weight to the front tires by simply lifting off the accelerator.
  • Be sure your headlights are on. Not all vehicles have automatic headlights. Having your headlights on will help you see better and help other motorists see you.
  • Limit your distractions. Drivers need to be looking ahead at traffic to anticipate any unexpected changes in road conditions or traffic.
  • Avoid unnecessary lane changes. Changing lanes increases the chances of hitting a patch of ice between lanes.
  • If you get stuck in the snow or go off the road, do the following
    • Stay with your vehicle. It gives your shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to find you. In severe weather it’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle and become lost during blowing snow.
    • Don’t overwork yourself. When digging out your vehicle listen to you body and stop if you get tired.
    • Stay visible by tying a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place it at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light of the vehicle on if possible to help rescuers find you.
    • Stay warm by using whatever is available to insulate you. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and other warm clothes during the winter in case of an emergency.
    • To save fuel, try to only run the engine and heat enough to remove the chill.