10 Winter Weather Driving Tips to Keep You Safe

Come rain, snow, sleet, or hail, every car owner should know how to drive in the elements. Driving on a slushy street is not like driving on a dry road. Cars do not behave the same way when surfaces are wet, which means it is critical to amp up your winter weather driving skills.

What To Do When Driving In Hazardous Conditions

Hazardous weather is just that – hazardous. If you want to completely avoid the dangers of inclement weather, you have to stay off the roads when dicey weather hits. But unfortunately, we all encounter those times when we have no other option than to weather the storm. If you cannot hunker down and stay home during severe weather, safe driving practices are your best defense against danger.

#1 – Go slow

Decreasing your speed is extremely beneficial when driving on slick surfaces. When pressing on the gas pedal, do not press down quickly. Rather, gently apply pressure to the pedal. You should accelerate slowly as well as decelerate slowly.

Why is reducing your speed so helpful when driving in inclement weather?
Traction – Slower speeds help you maintain traction. Snow-covered roads make it difficult for your tires to gain appropriate traction, and you need all the traction you can get during a storm. The more traction you have, the better your odds of not skidding or sliding.
Control – Slower speeds decrease the probability of you losing control. And if you do end up skidding or sliding, slower speeds better your odds of regaining traction and recovering control.
Reaction – Slower speeds give you time to react to your surroundings, and that extra time could be the difference between getting in an accident or avoiding one.

#2 – Increase your following distance

Wet, snowy, or icy roads affect braking capacities, which means you need additional time and space to come to a complete stop on weather-impacted roads. If you are following too close to the car in front of you, you may not be able to stop quick enough to circumvent an accident.

#3 – Avoid hard braking

Sudden stops can make you lose control and begin to skid. Braking abruptly is never recommended in winter weather. Sudden changes in speed can even cause your brake system to lock up.

#4 – Clean off your windows

Do not attempt to drive your vehicle without clearing off the windows first. Proper visibility is vital to your drivability. Also, don’t forget to remove accumulated snow from atop your car. That snow will not remain stationary once your car is in motion. Once you start driving, that snow pile can slide off in one big swoop and plop right in the middle of your windshield, blocking out your line of sight.

#5 – Beware of bridges and overpasses

Bridges and overpasses freeze at different rates than roads built directly on the ground. A bridge or overpass with airflow beneath the roadway will ice over faster and stay icy longer than a ground level street. So just because a road is ice-free, you should not assume a bridge is good to go.

#6 – Buckle Up

While this safe driving practice might seem obvious, it is always worth mentioning. Safety belts save lives. Always buckle up.

#7 – Add Travel Time

Traveling in inclement weather takes time—lots of time. You are asking for trouble if you attempt to rush your drive.

#8 – Steer clear of flooded roadways

Whether a roadway is flooded due to excess rain or melted snow, you should never attempt to cross it. Even the smallest amount of rushing water can be life threatening. Finding an alternate route is the safest choice.

#9 – Look out for pedestrians, cyclists, debris, stalled vehicles, etc.

In hard-to-see conditions, road hazards can easily blend in. Keep those headlights on the low beam setting (even during daylight hours) to help you see your surroundings.

#10 – Be prepared

Some safe driving practices begin before you even hit the road. The precautions you take before you drive in winter weather can be just as important as the decisions you make while driving in winter weather.

Perform regular car maintenance – Even the best drivers can encounter problems on the road when operating a poorly-maintained car. Bald tires are a recipe for disaster in hazardous weather. Cracked or torn wiper blades are a big no-no. Dirty headlights hinder visibility, and the list goes on and on. While you should never delay needed maintenance, holding off on car repairs during the winter is a particularly bad idea.

Pack an emergency kit – Stock your vehicle with a roadside emergency kit. Don’t forget fresh batteries and a flashlight, too.

Develop a plan – Before you head out, take a look at the weather forecast. Check road conditions. Map out your route and note any road closures. Be willing to make adjustments to that plan if the weather becomes too much.

And if you run into trouble mid travels, that’s where tow truck companies come into the picture. Here at Roadside Rescue, we are ready to help you battle the storm with 24 hour towing services. Our WreckMaster-certified technicians service cities all across the Wasatch Front.