Winter Driving-Tips To Keep You Safe

Snow, freezing rain, sleet, ice on the roads-These words are synonymous with treacherous driving conditions. It happens every year to some part of the country-and it happens right here in Ohio too. The experienced driver may think they know how to handle these conditions-may even think they have mastered the art of driving in bad weather…but sometimes these false confidences spell tragedy on the road.

Jack Maxton Chevrolet wants to make sure you are safe this winter and that you know just how to handle whatever the weather decides to throw your way.

Here are 10 tips to keep you out of the ditches and out of a potential accident.

Tip #1-Lights On!

That’s right-drive with your lights on. Daylight savings time equals shorter days. It is critical that other drivers be able to see you.  In snowy or sleeting conditions where visibility is low, it is especially important. So remember to check your lights for bulbs that are burned out (including taillights and brake lights)  and remember to turn them on when it starts to get dark, or there is precipitation.

Tip #2-Winter Emergency Kit

Remember how dad bought you an “emergency” kit when you got your first car? Well-it’s not just for the new teenage driver. Emergency car kits are really smart to have in general. They take up little room and can be stored in your trunk. What do they consist of? A blanket, gloves, boots, warm clothes, water, food, ice scraper, small shovel, flashlight, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables, tool kit, first aid kit, a bag of sand or salt for if you get stuck in snow.

Tip #3-Steer Into the Slide

It may seem scary, but when your tires lose traction on a turn, let off the acceleration and steer into the slide. In other words, turn your steering wheel slightly into the direction that your skidding. It will help your front tires re-establish a connection with the road. Fighting the skid will only make things worse.

If you happen to have a rear wheel drive that looses traction on a turn, ease off the gas and turn the wheel the same direction the rear tires are trying to go. This can help prevent you from spinning out of control.  (Unless of course-you like doing donuts just for fun)

Tip #4-Spare Some Gas

This is just plain common sense. Make sure to always leave at least a quarter tank of gas in your car. If your gas level drops below a quarter tank-you increase the risk of having frozen fuel lines. In addition, it might be a good idea to consider purchasing a small 1-5 gallon gas can and store it (empty) in  your trunk. It is never a good idea to carry gas in your trunk so don’t fill it, but an empty can will be useful if you run out of gas and need to bring some back to your car.

Tip #5-Snow Tires

It might be wise to consider purchasing a dedicated set of snow tires for when winter hits. These heavy duty tires are excellent at tracking through the snow and ice.

Tip #6-Don’t Spin Your Wheels

Traction is everything when it comes to driving in deep snow or on icy roadways. Try to avoid making your tires spin freely by accelerating and decelerating slowly. Leave enough distance between you and the vehicle in front and pay attention to the traffic ahead of you. Watch for brake lights and traffic suddenly stopping.

Tip #7-Don’t Lock Wheels

For those who do not have Anti-locking Braking Systems (ABS)- If you do get into a situation where you need to brake quickly, instead of jamming your foot on the brake, gently apply pressure on and off  the brake repeatedly. This will help prevent it from locking up. For those who do have ABS-apply your foot firmly on the break-the ABS will kick in and you will feel the brake pedal pulsating under your foot.

Tip #8-Stuck in a Rut

Getting stuck in high snow has got to be one of the most frustrating things about driving in winter. If you do find yourself stuck in a rut and you didn’t pack that emergency kit recommended in tip#2, you can try using your floor mats to help you out. Place your floor mats (rubber side down) in front of your drive wheels (the ones that move the car) and carefully apply pressure to your gas pedal. Your tires should grab hold of the mats, giving you just enough traction to get out of the hole you’ve dug yourself in.

Tip #9-False Sense of Security

It’s amazing how many people with AWD vehicles think their vehicle is somehow superior in treacherous conditions. This just isn’t so.  The only thing a 4WD or AWD vehicle does is increase traction control when accelerating. The All wheel drive vehicles are just as likely to loose control when cornering or braking. So please-if you drive one, continue to drive with the same caution as everyone else.

Tip #10-Take it Slow and Steady

Slow and steady wins the race. If its snowy, wet or slippery out, take it easy. It doesn’t matter if your running late or your just plain anxious to get somewhere-it’s not worth the risk of potentially getting hurt or hurting someone else. High speeds increase the potential for traction loss-and traction loss is a bad thing.

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