Over 70% of the roads in the nation see over 5 inches of snow every year. This means that many people have the chance to encounter slippery and dangerous driving conditions.
According to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Federal Highway Administration, 1 in evert 4 vehicle crashes that happen due to weather is because of snow or ice. It is important that you drive smart and stay safe in any weather conditions, but especially in winter months.
Know the top winter driving hazards and how you can avoid them while out on those icy roadways.
- Not enough preparation on the roadways. You want to have a safety kit inside your vehicle that includes first aid items, extra clothing, blankets, rain items, water, nonperishable food items, jumper cables, and roadside flares. If you're stranded on the side of the road, you want to be prepared for anything that might happen.
You will also want to carry kitty litter or sand with you, tire chains if they're legal, snow brushes, and ice scrapers. Make sure the vehicle you're driving is completely cleaned off, including the windows, mirrors, and all of the lights. Make sure your vehicle is serviced on time and properly, along with the tire pressure.
- The speed your driving at makes a big difference. Snow, sleet, and ice can all reduce traction. You want to drive as fast as the road conditions allow. Brake earlier than you normally would and assume you will slide. Keep a firm grip on your wheel and do not use cruise control.
- Tailgating is not recommended, as you will need more time to stop in slippery conditions. Avoid following the other vehicles on the road too closely. Keep your distance around 10 to 15 seconds between vehicles.
- Black ice can be a serious issue that you come across as a driver. These roads can look like they're wet when they're actually icy and dangerous. If you drive too fast on black ice, you may spin out. Look for road spray from other cars. If there is none, it is likely black ice.
- On and off ramps, bridges, and elevated surfaces can freeze faster than other roadways. They become much slicker than the other roads they're on. Account for this and be mindful.
- No matter how safely you are of a driver, you cannot trust that other drivers are doing the same. Expect erratic behavior from other drivers and don't get caught up in their accidents that happen.
- Not knowing the limits you're comfortable with or can go to. You don't want to push your luck or be a hero. If you feel unsafe or are uncomfortable driving, then don't. Pull over and wait for the weather to clear up before moving forward.
Practice does help, but being aware can prove to be the best way to prepare for the winter weather that occurs. In areas where winter is common, learning how to drive in these conditions is beneficial.