Seven Top Bad Weather Driving Tips
With winter conditions affecting northern parts of the United States, the issue of how to drive in snowy and icy conditions has come to the fore.
Last year a San Francisco man was found dead nearly two weeks after getting stranded with his family in the snowy Oregon wilderness, illustrating what can happen when things go badly wrong.
Although Hampton Roads only experiences the severe conditions seen further north intermittently, bad weather often causes chaos here because drivers don’t know how to cope with it. I grew up in Buffalo, New York where snow was a way of life in the winter. Try to avoid icy and snowy conditions unless you really have to go out.
Here are seven top tips for winter driving.
Know Where You are Going and Know the Weather.
Check weather conditions regularly and local TV news stations. Make a list of traffic hotlines that you can check to avoid hazardous conditions. Virginia’s 511 service provides traffic updates.
2. Maintain a Slow Speed.
Aim to reduce your speed by 50 percent in snowy conditions. Although you should drive slowly, don’t take your foot off the gas too much. Your car needs steady momentum to keep moving through snow on inclines.
3.Pack a Winter Travel Safety Kit.
Make sure you have a cell phone, an ice scraper and brush, a tow rope, blankets, a working flashlight, a portable weather radio and a can of lock de-icer. Cat litter can be used as a traction aid.
4. Keep a light touch on Your Car’s Controls.
If you are driving in slippery conditions, it’s important to keep control of your car. However, nervousness can lead to a hard clench of the steering wheel, which can lead to a loss of control. Make sure you loosen your grasp or stretch out your fingers from time to time to help prevent that white-knuckled grip.
5. See and Be Seen
Make sure your windshield wipers and defrosters are working properly. Turn on your headlights to be seen by other drivers.
6. Drink Water and Pack Food
When the weather is cold, dehydration might seem unlikely, but according to a study by the Mayo Clinic, a loss of a 1-2 percent loss of body weight can lead to fatigue and reduced alertness. You should carry as many as five or six 16-ounce water bottles and drink them. Aim to carry a day’s worth of high-energy food and water in a warm area of your car in case you are stranded for a few hours.
7. Know how to Drive if you Skid.
If you are braking on a slippery road, your wheels can “lock up” if you step on the brakes a little too hard. If you go into a skid, steer your car gently in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go and make sure not to touch your brakes. This is also called “turning into the skid.”
You should always watch out for unknown hazards in bad weather. Even when there is no snow, you may encounter black ice. Remember that bridges and areas in shade, ice over first. If you are injured by a driver who is unable to cope with bad weather, call Cooper Hurley Injury Lawyers at 757.455.0077.