Tips for Driving in Snow

Snow on Park BenchIt has been so long since we have had any major snow fall in the city of Chicago, that it’s easy to forget how any real accumulation can bring traffic to a stand-still and create dangerous condition. While it is true that in a large city such as Chicago, plows and salt trucks will quickly turn any major street drive-able. This is good news for urban drivers; at least we know we will not get stuck on any major streets. simply because you CAN make it down a road at 50 miles/hour doesn’t mean it’s a wise decision. Because you have the necessary traction to move your vehicle forward at normal highway speed,does not equate to having the ability to stop remotely as well as on dry pavement.This an additional challenge since your viability will be reduced at the same time that pedestrians will also have their own vision degraded by hats,hoods and scarfs.

Driving through the streets I was reminded of the need to adjust driving to fight the ever-changing conditions. After driving down major roads we often forget, as we turn onto a side street, that unless your alderman live on that block, the street will not be plowed. This can even be tricky a day or two later, when big streets are clean and perhaps even dry; yet the smaller streets and alleys can be packed with snow and ice. With that in mind, I have marked some Tips for winter driving.

How to Drive safely in snow and ice.

1. Go Slow. While this should go with out saying, I am constantly surprised by the number of drivers I see out on snow covered roads driving at speeds that should be reserved for dry pavement. The key is by decreasing your speed you are leaving yourself more room to stop, or avoid obstacles.

2. Expect surprises. The can in front of you might be stalled, or hit a patch of ice and begin to skid. Stop signs might be hidden from view and falling snow can vastly reduce viability. LEAVE ROOM, the general rule of thumb is You should allow for at least three times more distance between you and the car in front of you than on a clear, dry day.

3. Rule # 2 is so important because suddenly applying the brakes is the best way to send your auto into a dangerous skid. Today most car are equipped with Anti-Lock Brakes which will reduce the likelihood of skidding, but it sill is wise to push lightly of the break and keep focused, if your car shows any sign of a loss of control gently step off the brake.

Chicago Street traffic

4. Remember, on cold snowy days pedestrians are going to be bundled up in an attempt to keep warm and dry, those same clothes will reduce there viability. Not only will it be harder for you to see them, they will be less likely to see you.

5. Do your best to Keep your windshield clean. This is a great time to fill up your car’s reserve of washer fluid, there is no doubt that you can go though a gallon in a single snowy week.

6. Know your car or truck. Do you have 4 wheel-drive, do you have Traction control? Understanding how you vehicle performs
on hills and ice will make you a safer driver.

7. Don’t assume that your car’s technology releases you from the need to drive with caution. Ok your truck has anti-lock brakes, and a computer assisting you maintain traction, yes these are important safety features; but they can also lead one to a false sense of security. Sure your car is getting traction and can cruse at 50 miles/hour, that does not mean that at any given moment all Hell could not break loose.

8. The state did not put up all those signs warning “That bridges can freeze first” out of boredom. The truth is because of the ability of wind to get under a bridge or over-pass; they can freeze when other roads have not.

9. The joke goes “Having a 4X4 allows you to get stuck in more remote locations” Never assume that just because you dropped $50,000 on a luxury SUV, that you are immune from getting stuck. Also many SUVs have a higher center-of-gravity and have an increased risk of roll-over.

10. Keep a cell phone with you in case you need to call for help (but please no texting while driving). It is also a good idea to have warm clothes, and a means to signal your in trouble to passing motorists.
If you must pull of to side of the road, make sure to leave as much room as possible for passing cars, and take steps to guarantee that your car can be seen.

11. If your wheels begin to skid, the first idea is to gradually stop doing what ever you did to make them skid in the first place. Ease off the accelerator, and steer the vehicle in the direction you want your front tires to travel. The key is to remember that sudden movements are more likely to hurt than to help you gain control.

12. If you are in an accident use care getting out of your car. » Read “What to do after an Auto Accident”…

Yes winter has returned, but with care, and yet a bit of luck you can avoid being involved in an auto accident.

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