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Driving in the Snow

How to Stay Safe Driving in the SnowDecember 13, 2016

With cooler temperatures comes wintry precipitation in many parts of the country, but that snow on the ground doesn’t stop the world from turning. Unfortunately, you’ll still have places to go. Here are some tips for staying safe while driving in the snow, whether you’re driving a few short blocks or several hundred miles.

#1 – Accelerate and Decelerate Slowly

One of the best ways to decrease the chances of having an accident in the snow is to accelerate and decelerate very slowly. Use the gas pedal sparingly, and give yourself more room than usual to stop. This means releasing the accelerator well in advance of a stop sign or stoplight and providing extra room between your car and the car in front of you.

#2 – Stay Ahead of the Weather

Before you venture out on a long road trip, do some research to figure out what kind of weather conditions you’ll face. Even if the weather where you are doesn’t seem too terrible, things may be different just a few miles down the road. Plan for your trip carefully, and if the conditions look like they’ll be too bad, consider rescheduling your trip for a time when the weather outlook is better.

#3 – Keep Emergency Supplies in Your Car

The AAA reinforces the need to keep emergency supplies in your car, especially in winter. It isn’t unheard of for motorists to get stranded in bad weather, even on busy interstate highways, for 24 hours or longer. For this reason, you should make sure that you always half at least half a tank of fuel in your car, extra blankets, emergency flares, a first-aid kit, water, nonperishable food, and a way to open that food.

#4 – Avoid Using Cruise Control

Although cruise control can help you ensure that you keep a safe speed when driving long distances on highways, it’s best to avoid it when driving in snow – even if it’s patchy snow. When you use cruise control, you naturally put both feet on the floor. This means that your reaction time to slick surface, including your ability to properly brake (slowly) is compromised. For the best results, avoid cruise control in snow and on any other potentially slick surface.

#5 – Avoid Stops Where Possible

Although you must stop at red traffic lights and stop signs according to the law, it’s best to avoid making additional stops – especially when traveling uphill. For example, if you can avoid stopping at a traffic light by driving very slowly until it turns green, you should. It takes far less inertia to start moving faster than it does to move from a dead stop, and this is especially true in snowy conditions.

The best advice for driving in the snow is to avoid it wherever possible. However, life doesn’t often allow us to stay homebound, even when it may be the safest choice. The tips above will help you make certain that you’re as safe as possible while traveling on snowy roads. Follow them and keep yourself aware of the weather at all times.

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