Winter snow and ice driving calls for a cautious mindset

Winter is now upon us. Very soon this season, there inevitably will be snow, ice or some combination of the two. Snow and ice can play havoc upon drivers, often causing travel delays and lots of accidents, many of which can be avoided.

When driving through a snowing or ice condition, it is important to change your attitude about travel. Your number one concern should be safety and not getting home or to the party on time. In fact, it is often better to cancel your plans if you don’t have to be out on the road.

Nevertheless, there will always be times when despite the difficult conditions, you will have to venture out on snow and ice to get somewhere. If that is the case, the Department of Revenue’s Safe Travel Guide offers several tips. Just remember the following rhyme: “Ice and Snow — Take it slow!”

Here are tips from the DOR for safe winter driving:
*In winter, clean all snow and ice off your windows, headlights, and taillights.
*Be sure your windshield wipers and defroster are working.
*No matter how far you are going to drive, never start driving until all snow and ice is off your windows.
*Check your tires. Your vehicle should have tires that are rated for driving in snow. If you do not have tires that are rated for driving in snow, you should have chains ready to put on your tires during bad weather. But even if you have “snow” tires or chains, you cannot drive safely on snow or ice at normal speeds. If there is snow or ice on the road, slow down and do not use your vehicle’s cruise control system.
*When starting on snow or ice, start slowly and smoothly.
*If your tires start to spin, try clearing a path by driving backwards and forwards a few times.
*If that does not help, spread some abrasive material like salt, sand, or cat box litter around your wheels.
*NEVER let anyone stand in line with your wheels. Your wheels may throw up gravel or ice and cause an injury.
*Once you have started, try to get the feel of the road. Gently brake while driving to see how slippery the road is and then adjust your speed for the road conditions.
*Important Note: It will take longer to stop your vehicle when driving on snow or ice. So be sure to leave a safe distance, about 8 to 10 seconds, between your vehicle and any vehicle ahead of you.
*When you want to slow down or stop, apply the brakes gently and smoothly. Never slam on your brakes — this may cause you to skid. On very slippery surfaces, pump the brakes by gently pushing down and letting up on them several times. If your vehicle is equipped with an anti-lock brake system, refer to your owner’s manual for proper braking techniques in special situations.
*Remember that bridges and overpasses will freeze and become slippery before other parts of the road, and be aware that even on cleared roads a few ice patches may still exist.
*If you have a four-wheel drive vehicle, DO NOT use the four-wheel drive on ice. Four-wheel drive vehicles can easily overturn on ice. If you hit an icy patch in four-wheel drive, take your foot off the accelerator.

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