WINTER WEATHER: Drive With Care
It doesn't matter if you're in a huge mixer truck or the family car, driving in winter weather can be extremely dangerous.
But taking some precautions can go a long way in keeping you and your family safe when the deep freezes set in.
- Be prepared. Plan your trip accordingly by checking weather forecasts and possible construction areas along your route, make sure your vehicle is fueled and you have the gear to keep you warm if something unexpected occurs.
- Do a thorough pre-trip inspection. Even if you're driving the family vehicle, do a visual, hands-on inspection and check all important items, including tires, wiper blades and fluid and lights. Check your vehicle often.
- Slow down and give yourself extra space. Compensate for poor traction by slowing down and making all movements gently - never drive faster than conditions allow. Double or triple your following distance and never tailgate. Keep at least a 10-second following distance when driving on snow- and ice-covered roads.
- Turn off the cruise control. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Beware of black ice. Drivers can often mistake black ice for standing water. This shiny form of ice creates one of the most slippery road conditions. It forms first under bridges and overpasses, in shady spots, and at intersections. Bridges and overpasses freeze before roadways because there's no ground beneath them to hold in heat.
- Braking and accelerating. Drivers need to be aware of becoming overconfident if they have anti-lock brakes. If the brakes happen to lock, release them to avoid sliding. This will help to regain steering. Always brake gently to avoid skidding. If you begin to skid:
- Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, quickly
- Then steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go
- Before the rear wheels stop skidding, shift to drive and gently press the accelerator
- Don't slam on your brakes
- Don't ask your vehicle to do more than it can. If it's not going to handle the conditions, don't push your luck. And if you don't feel comfortable driving, park it.
- ALWAYS wear your seat belt. It's been shown time and time again to save lives.