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Driving in Snow and Ice Safety Tips


The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions. It’s helpful to practice winter driving techniques in a snowy, open parking lot, so you’re familiar with how your car handles. Consult your owner’s manual for tips specific to your vehicle.

Driving safely on icy roads:

  1. Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  2. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  3. Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  4. Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  5. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  6. Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  7. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  8. Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  9. Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

If your rear wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the accelerator.
  2. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
  3. If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
  4. If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  5. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.

If your front wheels skid:

  1. Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
  2. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.

If you get stuck:

  1. Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  2. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  3. Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  4. Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  5. Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
  6. Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

“Driving Safety Tips – Driving in Snow and Ice.” Weather.com. National Weather Service, n.d. Web. 07 Dec. 2013.

Comments (9)

  • Nicole StanleyJanuary 13, 2014 at 9:50 am Reply

    Driving in the winter can surely be frightful, these tips can be great help for driving in snow and icy condition.. I am sure following all these tips will make snowy season delightful.

  • Hall@carserviceThomastownFebruary 5, 2014 at 10:35 am Reply

    Driving during winters is very risky and often is the cause of accidents, you have to be very careful as even a sudden brake could skid your car on the ice. The mentioned tips are quite helpful and I would definitely apply these tips while driving on snowy roads.

  • Cassandra SuretteDecember 4, 2015 at 9:40 am Reply

    The frigid temperatures aren’t just uncomfortable and inconvenient — they’re dangerous and can even be deadly, especially when you must venture outdoors.

  • Steve@TocowarrantyApril 12, 2016 at 2:13 am Reply

    Make sure you have either snow tires or all-season tires. Also, check to ensure your tires are properly inflated for optimum grip.

  • Dennis SanchezAugust 14, 2019 at 3:42 pm Reply

    My wife and I recently moved to an area that is known to have very snowy winters. I appreciate the point you made that it is important to not pass snow plows because the drivers can\’t really see what\’s around their truck. I\’m really glad that there are people who work so hard to get ice off of roads.

  • Auto Electrical Service PowaySeptember 12, 2019 at 3:49 am Reply

    Driving during the winter season is very difficult. Follow the speed limit and slow down when visibility is low. Avoid driving in snowy weather or on black ice.

  • Greta JamesDecember 10, 2019 at 7:47 pm Reply

    With it colder outside I really want to make sure roads are safe for my daughter who learned how to drive last month. Thank you for your tip to turn in the same direction as your rear wheels if they are skidding. Hopefully, my HOA will look for good snow removal companies so that she won\’t have to worry about slipping too much!

  • Rego CheckDecember 22, 2019 at 4:30 am Reply

    I am planning to visit the best place to enjoy the snow in our city on new year\’s eve. I was a little hesitant to drive there, however, after reading this article i am now relived and will take care of all the tips to be safe and enjoy to the fullest.

  • Jenna HunterDecember 23, 2019 at 4:36 pm Reply

    Thanks for your tip about how you shouldn\’t spin the wheels when the car is stuck because it will only dig the car deeper into the snow. My son is going to be learning how to drive and I want to make sure that he is really safe in the winter because of snow and black ice on the roads. It could be really nice to have a him take some classes from a professional that could really help him know how to drive safely.

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