My baby sister celebrated her sweet sixteenth birthday this week. With her turning 16, this is the first winter that she can legally drive. I’m a little apprehensive about it. It takes some practice to confidently drive in the winter.
I hate driving in bad winter weather and I’m glad that so far my sister has been very cautious about it. To anyone new to Midwest winter driving or anyone that has a new driver in their lives, here are some winter driving tips.
The AAA recommends the following tips while driving in snowy and icy conditions:
During extreme cold weather:
•Keep a bundle of cold-weather gear in your car, such as extra food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, blankets, medications, and more. •Make certain your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread.
•Keep at least half a tank of fuel in your vehicle at all times.
•Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. •Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as on ice and snow. For driving in the snow: •Stay home if possible. Only go out if necessary. Even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.
•Drive slowly. Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.
•Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
•Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
•Know your brakes. Whether you have anti-lock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
•Don’t stop if you can avoid it. There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.
•Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.
•Don’t stop going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.
•Check the weather: Check the weather along your route and when possible, delay your trip if bad weather is expected.
•Stay connected: Before hitting the road, notify others and let them know your route, destination and estimated time of arrival. I think it’s important to know your vehicle too. Not every vehicle handles winter weather the same. They start and stop differently on the ice and snow. My current vehicle is light and gets stuck easily. Good luck drivers this winter and stay safe!