Whether you are new to winter driving in places like Michigan or Ohio or a long-time resident, it can be helpful to review how to drive safely during the winter months.
Perhaps you drive at night? Well, it feels like it because most people head out into the dark when they leave work in the winter. Did you know that death rates for night time driving are three times higher than daytime driving, according to the National Safety Council
There is always some natural risk in driving, and that increases during the dark, especially during snowy and icy road conditions. Here are some tips for driving at night and during inclement weather in the winter time.
Driving in the Dark
Remember that, even with headlights, it is extremely difficult to detect pedestrians, bicyclists and others. Use your headlights between the hours of sunset and sunrise. Don't drive if you're too tired and follow these recommended steps from the National Safety Council:
Driving in Freezing Rain
- Use the snow brush to remove any snow that hasn't come off the windshield, hood or headlights.
- Don't drink and drive. Not only does alcohol severely impair your driving ability, it also acts as a depressant. Just one drink can induce fatigue.
- Never text and drive. Put your mobile phone in your glove box until you reach your destination or need it for an emergency.
- Reduce your speed and increase your following distances.
- When following another vehicle, keep your headlights on low beams so you don't distract drivers ahead of you.
- If an oncoming vehicle doesn't lower beams from high to low, avoid glare by watching the right edge of the road and using it as a steering guide.
- If you're too tired to drive, stop and get rest.
- Pull off the road as far as possible, if you have car trouble. Turn on flashers and the dome light. Stay off the roadway and get passengers away from the area.
Heavy and freezing rains will cause more problems because your tires can begin to hydroplane. In this case, the key to keeping your tires in contact with the road is to simply slow down.
Consider buying a dedicated set of winter / snow tires for your vehicle, since they are specially made to dig down and bite into snow and ice. Winter tires are designed to do this because they are made from softer rubber compounds that retain their flexibility in cold weather and freezing conditions. Driving in Snow and Ice
An important winter driving skill to learn in snow and ice conditions is the controlled slide. If your vehicle begins to slide, take the following steps to regain control:
- Take your foot off the gas pedal
- If you have anti-lock (ABS) brakes, apply them firmly (Otherwise, pump them gently only if you are about to hit something)
- Steer the car into the direction of the skid to straighten out the car (Then steer in the direction you wish to go)
While you cannot control everything that other drivers do on the road, you can do your best to be prepared for any situation. Slow down and leave wider spaces between you and other drivers when you encounter bad winter weather and dark conditions.
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