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It's back-to-school season, which means winter is fast approaching. If you have a fear of driving in the snow, it's a good time to brush up your skills with some winter driving safety tips.
- Good lights: Your headlights and taillights should be clear of snow. This will help other drivers to see you. Get a new set of headlight lenses if yours are old or sand-pitted. Make sure both headlights work and replace broken tail and running lights.
- Visibility: Make sure you can see well. Clean the outside and inside of your windows thoroughly. Replace any old windshield wiper blades. Apply a water-shedding material on the outside of all windows. This includes the mirrors. Your windshield washers should work well and be filled with anti-icing fluid.
- Tire check: Use snow tires (sometimes called "winter tires"). Adequate snow traction requires at least 6/32-inch deep tread. Summer tires have little or no grip in snow. "All-season" tires don't always have good snow traction either: If the roads where you live are regularly covered with snow, get snow tires.
- Check for black ice: If the road looks slick, it probably is, but black ice can make it slick without it looking that way. Also called "glare ice", drivers often don't see it at all. Feel for black ice instead with a smooth brake application or by turning the wheel slightly. Does the road feel slick? Then slow down.
- Make turns slowly: Many motorists have lost control of their cars along icy curves. Slow down. Speeding on slippery curves is one of the top 25 causes of car accidents. Make sure to drive the posted speed limit. Avoid an accident by driving cautiously.
- Reduce speed on snowy roads: Remember your vehicle can't slow down or stop rapidly on snowy roads. Turning performance is also decreased. On snow-covered roads there is significantly less friction between the road and your tires. Make sure to slow down if the road is snow packed.
- Avoid icy uphill driving: Try to not drive up steep hills when it's icy. If you can't avoid it, go up the hill slowly in 2nd gear. Steer around obstacles and use feather braking to keep your momentum. Don't stop until you've cleared the top of the hill.
We should all be more cautious driving in the snow. Fear of driving in the snow is healthy if it makes us drive more safely. It's a way of protecting ourselves and our fellow drivers. Thanks for taking winter driving safety seriously. It makes the roads safer for all of us.