7 Tips for Smart Winter Driving

7 Tips for Smart Winter Driving
  • Opening Intro -

    You've seen before -- a snow covered highway jammed with cars slowly creeping by the scene of an accident. Hopefully, it was a minor fender bender and everyone was all right.


Just as easily it could have been a much more serious accident if speed was also a factor. You can’t do much about the way other people drive when winter’s fury hits. You can decide to driver smarter when weather conditions worsen.

1. Get Road Ready. Is your car ready for the next winter wallop? It may not be if you haven’t kept it maintained properly. A recent oil change, new air filter, a strong battery and winter tires are essentials. Not just two tires mind you — put on four to ensure adequate handling all around. Tires should not be worn, cracked or have little tread left either. Wiper blades should be new; bring an ice scraper with you. Your gas tank should be at least half full before you head out.

2. Warm It Up. Make your car’s interior comfortably warm before you hit the road. You don’t want to drive feeling cold on top of stressing out about the road conditions. Warming up the cabin will ensure that the heater is working and that the windows are clear. Make sure that snow is removed from the roof as well as around the headlamps and lights.

3. Use Your Headlamps. Most newer cars have daytime running lamps. They may also have automatic headlamps that come on as the skies darken. Whether you have these features or not, turn on the headlamps to improve your visibility and to ensure that other drivers see you.

4. Adjust Your Speed. Don’t even consider approaching anything near the posted speed limit if roads are snow covered. The speed you travel will depend on both the amount of traffic present and the conditions of the road. Allow at least double your distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. When a traffic light turns red allow for longer stopping distance.

5. Plan Ahead. Anticipate the road as you drive. When you see a bend, slow down and tap the brakes when you need to stop. Do not rely on your antilock brakes, stability control and traction control to keep your car under control. Avoid panic braking and if you hit a skid take your foot off the gas pedal and steer the car in the direction that you want to go. Do not use cruise control when road conditions are wet.

6. Stay Alert. Never take to the road if you are tired. Get plenty of rest before you head out because you will need to be on your highest alert when road conditions deteriorate. If there is more than one driver in the vehicle, take turns driving to allow each person to rest.

7. Delay Your Trip. If travel is treacherous, delay your trip. Allow the snow to end and for road crews to get out and plow and salt before you take to the road. Know that black ice can form at any time — transparent ice that typically covers roads, bridges and intersections following snow melt.

Road Considerations

As always, everyone inside of your vehicle should be buckled up. Turn on your navigation system and follow traffic reports and weather conditions. If you plan to take a long trip, share your itinerary with someone at your destination. Bring with you an emergency kit as well as blankets, water, dry food, and a fully charged cell phone. A fold up shovel, rock salt and sand can also come in handy.

See Also10 Tips To Help Prepare Your Car For Winter’s Worst


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Categories: Autos Express

About Author

Matthew C. Keegan

Matt Keegan is a freelance writer and editor as well as publisher of "Matt's Musings", his personal blog. Matt covers campus, consumer, business and financial topics on various websites and blogs, and has been published in the "Houston Chronicle", "Sam's Club Magazine" and "Wisconsin Golfer".