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How To Drive in the Snow

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Driving in winter weather conditions can be scary – even for the most experienced drivers. Whether you’ve never driven on snow or ice or just want to refresh your skills before a winter storm, Douglas, Leonard & Garvey, P.C. has some helpful tips that may help keep you safe.

Tip #1 – Slow Down

On snow and ice, driving safely requires extra concentration. Slow down to account for conditions and focus on the task at hand. AAA recommends increasing your following distance to 5 to 6 seconds when around other cars and driving slowly and smoothly to account for lower traction on snowy or icy roads.

Tip #2 – Keep It Smooth

Avoid jerky movements and accelerate and decelerate slowly. Driving smoothly will help keep your tires on the road, so make sure everything you do is deliberate, gentle, and gradual. Car and Driver magazine gives the following advice:

Pretend there's a cup of scalding coffee in your lap and drive so as not to spill it.”

To keep your driving smooth and constant, avoid stopping if you can. Always look ahead, and if you see a yellow light, a pedestrian crossing the street, or another hazard, slow down as much as possible, so you can roll through the intersection as soon as the coast is clear, or as soon as the light turns green.

Tip #3 – Know Your Vehicle

From antilock brakes to warning lights, today’s vehicles have a number of safety features you can use when driving in snow and ice. Pay attention to the flashing, amber lights on your dashboard, as these are your car’s stability-control system warning you that you are slipping or losing traction. Many vehicles flash an outline of a car with squiggly lights behind it when your car begins to slip.

Heed these warnings and ease off the gas pedal so your car can regain traction.

You should also pay attention to other parts of your car, such as your tires and your brakes. Always keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure to your brake pedals, and press antilock brakes all the way down in the event of an emergency.

Consider purchasing snow tires or snow chains for the winter and make sure your tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. Driving a four-wheel-drive vehicle during the winter can also help you maintain traction on snowy or icy roadways.

Remember, your vehicle will always work best with the proper maintenance so don’t postpone replacing your windshield wipers or getting that oil change!

Tip #4 – Know What To Do in an Emergency

If you feel your car beginning to skid, look in the direction you want your car to go and trust your peripheral vision to do the rest. If your front wheels skid, ease off the gas and gently steer in the direction you want to go as you regain traction. If your rear wheels skid, steer into the skid until you regain traction, then steer back into your original direction.

Be extra careful on snowy and icy hills, as you could roll backward. When faced with a hill, try to gather speed before going up and let that inertia carry you over the hill. Gradually slow down at the top of the hill and proceed downhill slowly. Whatever you do, don’t step on the accelerator, as this will only make your wheels spin, and don’t stop while going up a hill, as you can get stuck or slide backward.

If you get stuck – on a hill or anywhere else – stay with your vehicle and hang a brightly colored cloth out the window to make yourself visible and signal distress. Stay warm and conserve fuel by pre-packing blankets and warm clothes and running your engine only to remove the chill.

Bonus Tips

  • Stay home during bad weather if you can and get a motel if you’re traveling during a storm – getting off the road is the only surefire way to prevent an accident.
  • Always remove snow from your car roof and use a glass scraper to remove snow and ice from your windshield.
  • Be aware that not everyone drives safely in winter conditions and be cautious of other drivers. Negligent driving in snow and ice is a huge problem in New Hampshire and throughout the east coast.
  • If someone causes an accident on snowy or icy roadways, and you get hurt as a result, our firm is ready to fight for your rights and help you recover compensation. Call us at (603) 288-1403 or contact us online to put more than 140 years of combined experience on your side.