Winter Driving Safety Tips, Part 4: On The Road

Michael James

Using winter driving safety tips is imperative in inclement driving conditions.

With the arrival and dominance of inclement weather is your vehicle prepared for the season of winter driving conditions? Are you following the best winter driving safety tips?

Using winter driving safety tips is imperative in inclement driving conditions.
Using winter driving safety tips is imperative in inclement driving conditions.

Planning and continuing preventative and ongoing maintenance are the best solutions to keep your car or truck safe in heavy rain, snow and icy condition, according to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).

Here’s the fourth of a four-part series on Winter Driving Safety Tips:

Stay Alert

• Keep your gas tank close to full, even with a hybrid-electric vehicle. If you get stuck in a traffic jam or snow, you might need more fuel than you anticipated to get home or to keep warm.

• If road conditions are hazardous, avoid driving, if possible.Wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle.

• On longer trips, plan enough time to stop to stretch, get something to eat, return calls or text messages, and change drivers or rest if you feel drowsy.

Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors 

• Do not text or engage in any activities that may distract you while driving.

• Obey all posted speed limits, but drive even slower if necessary for weather conditions.

• Drive sober. Alcohol and drugs impair perception, judgment, motor skills, and memory–the skills critical for safe and responsible driving.

Driving in Winter Conditions

• Drive slowly. It’s harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you’ll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.

• Know whether your vehicle has an anti-lock brake system and learn how to use it properly. Antilock brake systems prevent your wheels from locking up during braking. If you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure to the brake pedal. If you don’t have antilock brakes, you may need to pump your brakes if you feel your wheels starting to lock up.

Navigating Around Snow Plows 

• Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside it. Snow plows travel slowly, make wide turns, often stop, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently.

• The road behind an active snow plow is safer to drive on. If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay behind it or use caution when passing.

• When you are driving behind a snow plow, don’t follow or stop too closely. A snow plow operator’s field-of-vision is limited; if you can’t see the mirrors, the driver can’t see you. Also, materials used to de-ice the road could hit your vehicle.

• Snow plows can throw up a cloud of snow that can reduce your visibility to zero in less time than you can react. Never drive into a snow cloud – it can conceal vehicles or hazards.

What To Do in a Winter Emergency

If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, follow these safety rules:

• Stay with your car and don’t over exert yourself.

• Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on.

• To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don’t run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.

Article Last Updated: December 27, 2016.

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