If you're traveling in the winter to your new home, make sure you know how to drive safely and be prepared for inclement weather. Here are some winter driving tips.
Winter Driving Tips
- Keep a safe distance. When traveling on snowy roads, make sure you keep a safe distance between you and the car in front of you. Driving in winter often means icy, snowy or wet conditions which makes stopping quickly difficult. You need at least 4-5 seconds, meaning that the time that it takes for the vehicle in front of you to pass an object on the side of the road, such as a telephone pole, and when you pass it should be at least four or five seconds.
- Drive under the speed limit. While driving slower than you normally would seems to be common sense, it's easy to let the speed creep up, especially if the roads appear to be clear and dry. Just remember that a road that appears to be clear of ice and snow may have spots of black ice that you won't see until you hit it. If your speed is under control, you'll be able to maintain control of your vehicle. As a rule, you should be well below the speed limit.
- Slow down for bridges and overpasses. Bridges and overpasses are often icy and are more likely to have black ice than other areas of the road. Always slow down when approaching. Give yourself lots of time to slow your speed.
- Brake and accelerate slowly. Whenever you need to slow down or stop, make sure you give yourself lots of time to do so. Same with acceleration. Accelerate slowly with a very light foot on the accelerator. Make sure if you need to turn, that you slow down and turn gently to keep control of your car. Always plan for turns, lane changes or stops well in advance of having to make them and check your speed.
- Keep lights on. Make sure your headlights, brake lights, turning signals and tail lights are in working order before you leave on your trip. Keep headlights on at all times. It ensures cars see you and for you to see them. If you encounter falling snow, you may want to drive with your headlights on low even when driving on really dark, vacant roads.
- Remove all snow. Before you head out on your trip or if you've stopped for a while at a service station and the snow has piled up on your car, make sure you remove it all before leaving. Clear all windows, the roof, front hood and back. Also make sure mirrors are clear as well as lights and tail lights. This will ensure you'll be visible, that you can see while driving and that accumulated snow doesn't suddenly fall onto the windshield while driving.
- Control skids. If you find your tires are skidding, ease up on the amount of foot pressure you have on the brake or accelerator. Then steer in the direction you want to go, but make sure you don't turn the wheel sharply as you'll go into a deeper skid. If you hit a patch of ice, it's best to remove your foot from the accelerator, and clutch into neutral. Try to keep the car moving in a straight line, but don't try to steer the car too much.
- Keep safety equipment in the car. Always have emergency supplies on hand. Emergency blankets, roadside flares, flashlight (or headlamp), the number of emergency services and a charged cell phone are just some of the items you should always carry with you.
- Have chains on hand. Before you leave on your trip, it's a good idea to purchase chains that fit your vehicle. Ask your mechanic or a tire store which type and size is best for your car. Make sure you purchase them well in advance of your trip so you have time to practice putting them on and taking them off. This is key to ensuring you and your car's safety. Also make sure chains are allowed on the roads you'll be traveling on. Some states have rules about chains so do your homework first before purchasing.
- Keep sand, salt and a shovel on hand. If you're driving in winter, it's likely that you'll get stuck at some point. Make sure you have everything you need to get you out of a snowbank. A shovel, bag of sand (or kitty litter), plus salt will help.