There’s nothing that marks a professional driver better that how he handles the test of snow and ice during the cold winter months. Unfortunately, few drivers can claim to be professionals, even though they may feel that the addition of winter tires makes it possible to drive at high summer speeds during an ice storm.
The problem with winter is that it’s just one season of four and the one that most people are never prepared to meet. Habits are hard to change, but summer driving during winter can be hazardous to both car and driver. Safe winter driving requires changing those summer driving habits.
If you change your driving habits, you are more likely to make it through winter unscathed and your pocketbook safe from a few tows and the fender benders.
Get Those Winter Tires
You should have them on your vehicle well before the first snow flies. The news is filled with fender benders and accidents on the highways at the first winter blow. Most of them are due to drivers who wait for the last minute to install their tires. Winter tires mean better traction and more assurance that you won’t spin out of control when you hit a patch of black ice.
Leave Home Early
If you must be somewhere at a specific time, you need to get out of the door at least 10 to 15 minutes earlier. Leaving early avoids the panic of rushing to get to an appointment that too often leads to an accident. Depending on the road and weather conditions, you may need to leave a half hour earlier to compensate for inclement weather.
Know the Weather You Will Face
Listen to the weather reports. It can give you a good idea of what you will face on your drive to work. However, if the weather is too severe, you’re much safer staying indoors and calling your boss that you won’t be in for work. Inclement weather is not worth a lengthy stay in the hospital with broken bones.
Keep a Safe Distance
Tailgating is an invitation for disaster. Yet too many people engage in the sport during the winter. It should be obvious to many that a safe distance is needed between you and the vehicle ahead to allow time to a come to a stop and avoid a rear-ender.
It’s been repeated often enough. But it doesn’t happen to the majority of road hogs out there. You can incur far more damage at top speed than cruising at a safer clip. Even if you possess the best winter tires, this will not keep you from spinning out of control. Nothing is worth getting there through speeding.
Be Alert for Any Hazards
Whether it’s the drivers around you or the road conditions, you need to be alert for those potential hazards. Use your peripheral vision and be prepared to react immediately. In winter, you need to focus on the road, not chatting amicably over the cell phone. Your hands should be on the wheel. Let the passenger do the talking while you concentrate on the road.
Control Your Emotions
Winter is not forgiving when it comes to road rage. Be courteous and allow the other guy who just cut you off to go his merry way to the coroner. Impatience on the road can kill you. Listen to some relaxing music while traveling.
These techniques can help you survive through every winter. You and your passengers will greatly appreciate your preparation and driving skills. However, you should keep in mind that drinking and driving are hazardous at any season.