Car Driving Tips for Winter Safety

These car driving tips can help you navigate the snowy and icy conditions of winter safely. It's essential for parents to share these tips with teens. Most young drivers learn how to drive during the warm months, which teaches nothing about the hazards of black ice and snow drifts. Driving in winter requires extra caution, which is why you may be tempted to wrest the car keys from your kids until the spring thaw. Practically, however, your kids need to learn how to handle a car in snowy conditions.

It's a good idea for parents to ride along with teens the first few times they venture out in treacherous weather. You can also look for defensive driving quizzes online. For the greatest measure of safety, sign your teen up for a defensive driving course. These classes go far beyond what's taught in most driving schools, giving students hands-on opportunities to practice controlled braking or reacting to a spinout.

Here are some tips for driving in the winter.

  1. Slow down. Drive at least 10 mph slower than you usually would if roads are fairly clear. Patches of ice can be hidden and surprise you. Slower speeds help you stay in control.
  2. Give space. Cars around you may start to skid. Maintain at least three car lengths of distance between you and the car in front of you, which gives you more time to respond. Remember, even if you're prepared, other drivers might not be. 
  3. Brake slowly. Slamming on the breaks is a sure way to skid and lose control. Ease your foot off the brake if you begin skidding.
  4. If the roads are very snowy, put your car in low gear and take it slow. Avoid cruise control and overdrive.
  5. Check your wiper fluid. Make sure it's made for cold weather, and is fully stocked. Salt buildup on your windshield can drastically reduce visibility.
  6. Beware of ice. Bridges and overpasses freeze before the road does. Slow down when crossing them and when using on and off ramps.
  7. Don't pass plows and salt trucks. You're safer behind them, and you'll get a windshield full of salt if you try to pass.
  8. Adjust your driving to meet the conditions. Remember that the response time of your vehicle to stops and starts is reduced when snow is on the road.
  9. Spinning your wheels digs you in deeper if you're stuck in the snow. Try rocking back and forth by switching between forward and reverse. Keep some salt, sand or kitty litter in the car, as well as a shovel to clear away snow. Use a light touch on the gas. If the wheels start to spin, stop and dig the car out a little more. Spinning your tires creates ice ruts that will keep you trapped.
  10. Steer into a skid. If your car starts to skid, steer in the direction of the skid. Slow down gently, rather than slamming on the brakes. Newer cars have antilock brakes that reduce the risk of skids, but these won't cut down on your stopping distance or help your car stop if you're on an icy grade.
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These tips will help you pass a driving test and prepare you for some of the questions that examiners may ask.

These seven simple driving safety tips are a must for all drivers, whether you're a teen driving for the first time or an adult with years of experience behind the wheel.
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