Driving in the snow is only scary if you don’t know what you’re doing. Sure, the snow is coming down and the road feels unsteady and slippery, but you shouldn’t feel frightened.
Yes, driving in the snow is different than driving on a clear sunny day, but it’s not completely different. The best advice is to be cautious and stay calm. A panicked driver is a reckless driver. Just relax and follow these tips for driving in the snow.
Clean your windshield, all windows and your review mirror before you get in your car. Also, brush the snow off the roof of your car. Otherwise, it will go flying behind you as you drive – which will impede other drivers and make the road more dangerous. In fact, New Jersey and Connecticut require drivers to clear the top of their cars or pay fines.
Go out unnecessarily. Why risk driving in the snow if you can avoid traveling? Stay home if you can, and plan your trip for another day when snow is not falling.
Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal and keep it there. It’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated. That means it is working. If you do not have ABS, put the heel of your foot on the floor and apply firm and steady pressure on the brake pedal.
Drive fast. You’re more likely to skid and lose control if you do. Instead, drive at a slow and steady pace. If you keep moving, there’s less of a chance that you will get stuck. Accelerate and decelerate more gradually than you would normally. Slow down sooner when you’re approaching a turn or a stop and give yourself extra time for turns and lane changes.
Increase your following distance. Instead of driving three to four seconds behind the car in front of you, drive eight to ten seconds behind. This gives you more time to brake and stop while accounting for ice and snow.
Stop suddenly. As you’re driving in the snow, the roads get slippery and icy, and a sudden stop can send your car spinning out of control. The key is to continue to move but not make any sudden movements. If you need to avoid hitting an object, steer away instead of stopping. Steering requires less distance than sudden braking.
The best way to get your car ready now for snow later is to get a complete vehicle checkup at an AAA-approved Auto Repair Facility. Plus, save 10 percent on car service and parts with an AAA membership.
For more car tips, visit AAA.com/DosAndDonts.