As fall turns into winter, our thoughts often turn to the holidays and all the happiness they bring. With this exciting time of year, however, comes some dangerous driving conditions. Depending on where you live, you may experience snow, ice or fog—or a combination of all three.
Take a little extra time before you begin your drive to make sure your vehicle is in good condition. Check your mirrors, your wiper blades and fluid, and your lights. Ensure all your lights and blinkers are clean and free of ice and snow—be sure to check your fog lights as well. The short time it takes to check your vehicle’s condition can make a big difference in your safety as well as those around you who need to know you’re there.
Snow and Ice:
VISIBILITY: Stay alert and watch for brake lights on the vehicles in front of you. Keep your eyes moving and know what vehicles are around you— they may disappear and reappear into and out of clouds of snow. Also, pay attention to drivers who did not clean off their windshields and are attempting to drive while looking through a small scraped-off area.
ROAD SURFACE: Remember that bridges will freeze first—watch for icy or glazed surfaces. Shady sections of the road will remain icy after the sunny areas have melted. Sand and salt trucks are often slow to treat entrance and exit ramps, so drive with caution!
TRACTION: Stay out of the ruts of other vehicles because their spinning wheels have probably packed the snow into ice. As you accelerate and decelerate, do so gradually and carefully. Most importantly, SLOW DOWN. The more you increase your speed, the less your tires will be able to provide traction.
THE OTHER DRIVER: No matter how long someone has lived in an area that gets snow each year, they are never prepared for the first winter storm. Give other drivers plenty of space by increasing your following distance.
Fog can be very dangerous, and it forms during the night and morning hours in the late fall and winter months. Visibility can vary from a fraction of a mile to less than 10 feet—and that visibility can decrease in a matter of feet. These types of situations lead to multi-vehicle accidents where one car follows another into a fog bank.
SLOW DOWN! Reduce your speed and watch your speedometer. Driving through fog creates an illusion of slow motion when you may, in fact, be speeding. Keep your lights on at all times—on LOW beam—even during daylight hours. High beams will reflect off the fog and create a “white wall” effect.
Keep driving! Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road unless absolutely necessary. It can also be helpful during times of very poor visibility to roll down your window to listen for traffic you may not be able to see.
No matter what winter driving conditions you face, be patient. Increase your following distance to give yourself time to react and make safe decisions.