You're far more likely to be in a car accident in winter than in summer. Cut the odds by taking simple precautions and following these common-sense driving tips.
Step 1: Check your vehicle Prepare your car for the winter. Check your tires for wear and proper inflation. Check the condition of your windshield wipers and the levels of your antifreeze and wiper fluid. In snowy regions, consider buying snow tires or tire chains.
TIP: If your tire treads are worn to a depth below 5/32 of an inch they’re no good for winter use.
Step 2: Be prepared Keep a bag of sand in your trunk to help with tire traction in case you get stuck. Always warm up your car and defrost all windows. Turn on your headlights.
Step 3: Test road conditions Start slowly. Test your braking and steering response to see how much traction your tires have.
Step 4: Slow down Take your time. Going too fast on slippery roads will result in skids. Don't use cruise control and use low gear for added traction.
Step 5: Anticipate problems Anticipate problems. Look for black ice, blowing snow, and traffic slowdowns or stops. Watch for bridges and overpasses, which freeze before the rest of the road. Leave extra room between yourself and the car in front of you.
TIP: Allow four car lengths between yourself and the car ahead of you for every 10 miles per hour of speed.
Step 6: Turn corners safely Slow down before you begin to turn. As you turn, release the brakes. Once the turn is complete, accelerate to maintain control.
Step 7: Prevent skids Avoid sudden breaking or swerving. Break gently and evenly, and ease up if you start to skid. Don’t pump antilock brakes; apply steady, firm pressure on the pedal.
FACT: Snowflakes are clear. Refracted light makes snow appear white.