8 Tips for Safer Winter Driving

Winter weather can create dangerous roadway conditions that even experienced motorists can have trouble driving through. In fact, snow and ice-related accidents cause more than 1,300 deaths and over 116,800 injuries each year, according to the U.S Department of Transportation’s Federal Highway Administration (FHWA).

Here are 8 items to watch out for during winter driving...

1. Driving Too Fast for the Weather

Speeding is always dangerous. However, when weather conditions make roadways slick or reduce visibility, it is more important than ever to drive slowly and cautiously. In certain cases, it may be necessary to drive below the posted speed limit for safety.

When the pavement on urban roadways is snowy, icy, or slushy, the FHWA recommends drivers reduce their speed by 30 to 40 percent. Likewise, motorists traveling on freeways should reduce their speed by three to 13 percent during light snow, and five to 40 percent during heavy snow.

2. Unclear Windows

Winter weather and ice, snow, sleet and freezing rain stuck to your vehicle’s windows can significantly reduce your visibility while driving.

To be safe during the winter season, always remember to clear your vehicle’s windows of wintry mix to improve visibility. Utilize your vehicle’s defroster to help keep windows and your windshield clear while driving.

3. Speeding

If you drive during harsh winter weather, allow yourself more time to reach your destination. There could be several conditions, such as slick roadways and slow-traveling motorists, that could delay your travels.

4. Following Vehicles Too Closely

When the road is icy or snowy, vehicles need more space to come to a complete stop. When driving through harsh winter weather, give yourself more distance than the standard three to four seconds between your vehicle and the one in front of you.

AAA recommends leaving a distance of eight to ten seconds between vehicles in winter weather to avoid rear ending the car ahead of you.

5. Stopping in a Lane

Never stop within a lane of travel if you have car trouble or cannot see due to winter conditions.

Instead, pull over to the side of the road and wait until you can fully see the road to resume driving. Reduced visibility prevents other motorists from seeing your vehicle in the lane they are traveling in.

6. Unnecessary Travel

When weather and road conditions are bad, skip unnecessary travel and reschedule minor or unimportant trips. If the weather is bad, it is best to avoid traveling all together. Instead, stay in the warmth and safety of your home.

7. Braking Issues

When the roads are slick from ice or winter conditions, you should allow extra time for stopping your vehicle.

Often, vehicles that brake too fast or hard while traveling on slick pavement are at risk of fishtailing or drifting. To avoid this, slowly pump your brakes rather than quickly slamming them.

You should know your vehicle’s brake system and how it responds when you quickly apply the brakes. With anti-lock brake systems, you may need to press the brakes harder to achieve a quicker stop that allows your vehicle to slow down and come to a complete stop.

8. Over Acceleration

Accelerating your vehicle too quickly can prevent it from gaining traction on the road. To prevent this, accelerate your vehicle slower than usual by slowly applying the gas and avoid causing your tires to spin.

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