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Winter Driving Tips

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(ARA) -- If you live in the northern two-thirds of the country, it's difficult to avoid the tricky driving conditions that arrive with winter. We may not be able to control Mother Nature, but motorists can tame the treacherous roadways a bit by exercising caution and common sense. Before you pull into traffic, check the following:
  • Windshield wipers and fluid. Be sure the wipers are not frozen to the windshield and wipe them clean with a paper towel or soft cloth. Keep your washer fluid filled and carry a reserve supply with you.
  • Headlights, brake lights and taillights. Make sure they are working, and that they are not covered with snow or salty grime. When conditions are slippery, you don't want to risk other drivers overlooking your presence.
  • Side and Rearview Mirrors. Don't forget to brush snow and ice off your side mirrors as you clean off your car. Likewise, you'll want to be sure that the rear window remains clear, this often means making sure the roof is free of snow as well.
  • Your Survival Kit. Your vehicle should be equipped with warm clothes, a blanket, tire chains, a small shovel, a first aid kit, flashlight, unused cat litter (to place under your wheels for traction should you get stuck), and jumper cables -- until spring arrives.

While you are driving in stormy conditions:

  • Keep your low beam headlights on, even during the day.
  • Do everything more slowly - turning, stopping, accelerating.
  • Place a greater distance between your car and the one in front of you. Slippery conditions can triple the distance it takes to come to a complete stop.
  • Drive defensively. Keep your eyes open, and anticipate what other drivers may do.
  • If your car begins to fishtail, turn in the direction of the skid and keep your foot off the brake. (If the rear of your car veers to the right, turn your steering wheel in the same direction.)
  • When braking on a slippery surface, allow plenty of time and pump the brakes gently to avoid skidding. Anti-lock brakes provide the lone exception to this rule. If you have ABS, press on the brake pedal firmly and hold. Expect noise and vibration; this means the ABS is working. Pumping and extreme steering may cause you to lose control.
  • Keep in mind that bridges and overpasses freeze more quickly than roadways. Use extra caution while driving on them, and beware of "black ice" when the road appears dry but is darker than usual and very slick.
  • Before maneuvering through a turn, brake while the car is still traveling straight. Then, take your foot off the brake as you turn, but don't accelerate until you begin to straighten the steering wheel again.

If you get stuck:

  • Rock your car gently back and forth to gain momentum that may free you.
  • Do not spin your wheels in one place. This only digs you in deeper.
  • Make use of the kitty litter in your survival kit. Toss some under the wheels for traction. Sand, salt, cardboard and/or grocery bags can also be used.
  • Shovel snow away from your tires.

Courtesy of Article Resource Association,


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