With winter storms raging from coast to coast, we gathered these winter driving tips on how to drive safely ’til springtime.
Apart from not driving at all, the best way to handle icy roads is to drive slowly and cautiously. Leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of it, and gently brake for stop signs and red lights ahead of time. Try to avoid slamming on the brakes, too, because it could lead to skidding. And beware of ice on bridges, overpasses, and seldom-used roads.
Slow down by pumping your brakes and leave plenty of room in front of your car. You can prep your car for snowy conditions by replacing older windshield wipers and checking your tires. A tire needs a tread that’s at least 6/32-inch deep (a new tire is typically 10/32). It’s also a good idea to have a bag of sand and a shovel in your car just in case.
Hail is snow’s angry brother, and it can seriously damage your car. If you’re already on the road, try to get your car underneath something like an overpass. If you’re not on the road, get to a window and try to gauge whether it’s hail the size of golf balls or softballs (just for fun). Hail causes over $1 billion in damages every year, and the best way to protect your car is to keep it covered until the storm passes.
It’s safer than ice or hail, but don’t let it fool you. It’s easy to hydroplane (when the water prevents your tires from hitting the road) in the rain at speeds over 50 mph. And avoid using cruise control, too. Cruise control may be the coolest thing since autopilot, but it’s also incapable of recognizing different weather conditions. Driving with it on can lull you into a false sense of safety and cut down on your response time.
That sunshine sure is nice, but it may be trying to trick you. If it rained or snowed recently and the thermometer’s around freezing, be wary of black ice left over from yesterday’s weather. Black ice is notoriously difficult to spot, so keep it in mind as you start your drive. If you find yourself skidding and it’s too late, the first thing to do is release the gas pedal. Then turn into the direction of the skid without slamming the brakes.
We hope these tips will make your winter driving a little easier. And stay safe on the roads — better weather’s on its way.
El Niño survival tips
With an El Niño winter predicted, we’ve created a list of resources to help you weather any storm. Check out our Ultimate El Niño Survival Guide.