Safety Tips for Driving in Snow

While it is wisest to avoid driving in the snow, sometimes it is unavoidable. There is no substitute for getting hands-on winter driving lessons at a nearby driving school, but here are some basic ways to make sure that both you and your vehicle are prepared to handle issues that arise when the weather is snowy


Use Snow Tires
Get tires that are meant to perform in snowy weather. Make sure you purchase tires known as “snow tires” or “winter tires.” These tires are softer and have a tread design that provides better traction and road-gripping abilities for your car. The tires that meet the tire-industry traction standard have a “snowflake on the mountain” symbol on the sidewall.

Check and Use Your Lights
Before you drive, make sure the lights in the front and tail of your car aren’t broken, dirty or covered by snow. While you are on the road, turn on your lights to make yourself visible to other drivers.

Improve Visibility
Make sure that your windows are clean inside and out. Replace your windshield wiper blades if they are not in top-notch condition. If you live in a particularly snowy area, snow blades may be a good investment. Apply a water-shedding material to the outside of the car’s windows and its mirrors. Also have a mechanic test your car’s anti-freeze/coolant to ensure that it will adequately protect your vehicle. To vastly improve driving visibility, try to drive only when it is light outside.

Avoid Inside Condensation
Before you get in your vehicle, check your shoes to make sure they are not too icy. If they are covered by snow, remove as much as you can as you’re getting in the car. The moisture that comes from the shoe ice melting can cause the windows to become foggy on the inside. If condensation starts to fog up the inside of your windows, run your air conditioner for a few minutes and turn off the air circulation option. The air conditioner, whether you have it set to cold or hot, helps dry out the inside of the car.

Learn to Use Your Brakes
Depending on the type of brakes your car has (with an anti-lock braking system or not) you may need to employ different tactics. If you don’t have ABS, pump the brakes gently — don’t stab the brakes. If you do have ABS, press firmly on the pedal to engage the system, which will then pump the brakes for you.

Avoid Black Ice Slips
“Black ice” or “glare ice” is ice that stays on roadways that don’t get direct sunlight. It often goes unnoticed or looks like a little puddle on the road. Be aware that you may run across black ice on roads that wind around lakes and rivers, on overpasses, in shaded areas or in tunnels. To avoid black ice emergencies, slow down when it is snowing or after it has snowed. While this is especially true if you are in an area that may not see much sunlight, slowing your car can also help you avoid a variety of emergencies like ones that involve other vehicles.

Pack an Emergency Kit
In case an accident or other emergency occurs, it is wise to invest in a set of emergency supplies. The list of supplies to have in your vehicle may include:
-Matches and candle
-Snacks
-Blankets/extra clothing
-Water
-C.B. radio or cell phone
-Shovel
-Flashlight
-Windshield scraper
-Flares
-Traction device
-Jumper cables
-Tow rope

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