Winter weather: Tips for driving in the cold, snow

Driving during cold, snowy weather can be stressful for anyone, including experienced drivers. Whether it’s slick roads, decreased visibility or other severe weather, drivers should always be cautious during winter storms.

While motorists should try to avoid hitting the road during severe weather whenever possible, it’s important to know the best driving practices for snow and winter conditions. AAA recommends the following tips for drivers during the winter:

  • Drive slowly. Decrease your speed to account for lower traction when driving in snow or ice.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Apply the gas slowly will help avoid skidding. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads so make sure to slow down earlier when approaching stop signs and traffic lights.
  • Increase your following distance to five or six seconds.
  • When braking, keep your heel on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm and steady pressure on your brake pedal.
  • Avoid stopping when possible. If you can, try to slow down enough to roll until a traffic light changes. It’s harder to get moving again from a complete stop instead of accelerating while already rolling.
  • Don’t power up hills. Hitting the gas while climbing an icy or snowy hill just makes the wheels spin. Instead, try to get inertia before reaching the hill and let that carry you. Try to reduce your speed while you crest the hill and before proceeding down.
  • Don’t stop while going up a hill.
  • Don’t use cruise control while on icy or slippery roads.

Though it’s important to know how to drive in severe winter weather, motorists should also be prepared. Make sure to keep a set of warm clothing in your vehicle, as well as extra food and water, a flashlight, glass scraper and blankets. AAA also recommends that vehicles have at least a half tank of gas at all times during cold weather.

Motorists should never warm up their vehicles in a closed space, such as a garage, or leave their vehicle unattended while waiting for it to warm up. They should also check their tires to make sure they’re inflated properly and have tread.

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