How to Drive Safely in the Snow and Other Winter Driving Tips

Wintry drives don’t have to be a roadblock on your next road trip. Staying cautious is always important when traveling but becomes more vital when conditions are icy. Slick roads, less daylight, and reduced traction can leave drivers in precarious driving conditions, but there are some simple winter driving tips you can use to remain safe when you hit the road this season.

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Make a Checklist

If you’re driving in the snow for the first time, there are some things to keep in mind:

Make note of the condition of your vehicle. Check your tires: Are they worn? Tires need plenty of tread to drive in the snow. Are they at the proper pressure level? Lower temperatures can cause tire pressure to drop, so make sure to inflate them to your owner’s manual guidelines. Do you have plenty of gas for your trip? Be sure to fill up your tank before you get going.

What do you need to drive in the snow? A blanket, gloves, a flashlight, and snacks are important in the case of emergency or if you have to pull off the road for extended periods of time. Be sure to have a glass scraper with you to maintain visibility with icy windshields.

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Use the Technology of the Car

Stay safe in winter driving dangers and let your vehicle do the hard work for you by using modern conveniences included on many late-model cars. If your car has a remote start functionality, now is the time to give it a try. To stay warm, crank up those trusty heated seats (and put on the gloves you so thoughtfully brought).

Safety features are important to keep an eye on when driving in the snow. Pay attention to stability-control warnings, which kick in when your tires show signs of skidding. If you notice these lights flashing on your dash, release the accelerator and allow the system to regain control.

Some newer cars are even equipped with snow mode, which optimizes the vehicle for wintry conditions. With a push of a button, the car adjusts the transmission and engine throttle to help control wheelspin. This mode may also readjust power to all four tires for some cars. To see if your car has snow mode and what it does, consult your owner’s manual or do a quick internet search of the car model and “snow mode.”

One thing to remember: All-wheel drive can be a great help in icy conditions, but it doesn’t assist with braking. Slow and steady wins the race when ice and snow are present.

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What to Know About Driving in the Snow: Quick Tips

Stay out of the worst weather. If a big storm is brewing, postpone your drive until it’s safe to travel.

Plan your trip ahead of time. Keep an eye on weather and road conditions to plan for what’s to come. Let others know your timeline and keep in touch on your progress.

Don’t use cruise control. If your car does begin to skid, the cruise control function will force the vehicle to try to maintain your speed, spinning your wheels and causing your car to lose control.

Drive slowly and change speeds gradually. Ice can sometimes be hidden under patches of snow, so be wary of anything obstructing the pavement. Quickly accelerating or braking is a no-go on wintry roads, and traveling too fast can cause your car to fishtail, so maintain consistent speeds.

Anticipate moves ahead of time and don’t make jerky movements. If you do start to fishtail, don’t panic. Quickly and gently steer into the same direction as the skid to correct. Don’t apply pressure to the brake and decelerate slowly.

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Snowy roads don’t have to keep you home this winter. Following these tips and guidelines on how to drive in safely in the snow can help to ensure smooth travels on your winter road trips.

Header image via jamie_fenn/unsplash

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