In winter, the best advice for driving in bad winter weather is to not drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don’t go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.
Preparing your vehicle for driving in bad weather
- Clear all snow and ice from the vehicle’s windows, roof, hood, trunk lid and any other covered areas. This will reduce risk, because it increases your visibility. Additionally, drivers around you won’t be blinded by snow blowing off your vehicle.
- Use an ice scraper to remove snow and ice from your windshield and all windows, including side and rear windows. This will improve your ability to see other roadway users that may move into your path of travel.
- To optimize visual clarity, clean the outside and inside of your windshield at least once a week. Frequent cleaning is even more important if you smoke.
- Keep your car’s windshield and rear-window defrosters in good working condition.
- Keep your windshield wiper blades fresh. Many drivers change them every six months, especially before driving in bad weather.
On the road
- Make sure your headlights are on. In fact, it is a good idea to turn on your headlights any time you drive, because you will increase your visibility in any conditions.
- Reduce your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding.
- Do not use cruise control on icy roads.
- Be aware of possible icy roads. Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses, which freeze sooner than roads. And even at temperatures above freezing, if conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
- Be careful on infrequently traveled roads, which may not be cleared as often as other roads.
Leaving the roadway
- If you must pull off the road, wait for conditions to improve and pull off the road as far as you can, preferably past the end of a guardrail.
- It is best to pull into a rest area or parking lot, rather than on the road’s shoulder.