Now that the holiday season is over and winter is really settling in, have you thought about how to stay safe while driving in the snow? If not, it’s worth a second thought. Did you know each year, 24 percent of weather-related vehicle crashes occur on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement and 15 percent happen during snowfall or sleet? Furthermore, over 1,300 people are killed and more than 116,800 people are injured in vehicle crashes on snowy, slushy, or icy pavement annually. Here are some tips for driving in the winter, from Car and Driver:

Slow Down and Know Your Brakes

Slow and steady wins the race when it comes to maintaining control on snow-covered or icy roads. All maneuvers take longer and are less predictable when the roads have snow on them. Make sure to brake well before having to stop when it’s icy out. Since your vehicle reacts slower in the snow, keep a longer following distance than you normally would. Stopping on ice requires at least twice the distance you need when it’s above freezing, according to AAA.

Get Your Car Serviced

You don’t want your vehicle breaking down in any season, but especially during winter. Start the season off by ensuring your vehicle will keep you safe in cold and snowy weather. Have your mechanic check the battery, belts, fluids and tires for suggested preventative maintenance. This will also provide an opportunity to spot any repairs that need immediate attention. Keeping your gas tank above ½ full is also a good idea. You never know when you might be stranded for a time until assistance arrives and that fuel may help keep your car running and warm during the wait.

Drive Super Smoothly

The key to safe driving in snow is being smooth with the steering wheel, accelerator, and brakes. Why? Jerky movements with the controls easily unstick tires that have a tenuous grip on the slippery road, so every turn of the wheel, push of the brakes, and movement of the throttle must be deliberate, gentle, and gradual to prevent losing control of your vehicle. Pretend there’s a cup of scalding coffee in your lap and drive so as not to spill it.

Look Far Ahead

The slipperier it gets, the farther down the road you should look—and think. Anticipate what you’ll need to do next. Slow way down for turns. Allow double the stopping distance when the road is wet, triple on snow, and even more on ice. Driving carefully and safely takes extra concentration.

Heed Your Dash Lights

How much traction do you actually have on a snowy road? One way to know before you get into trouble is to understand what one particular small, amber, light in the instrument cluster means. (It’s an outline of a car with squiggly lines behind it.) If you’re accelerating in a straight line and this light is on, this is the stability-control system warning you that the wheels that drive the car are slipping. Heed it. And ease up on the accelerator so the tires regain their grip.

If you’re turning and see this amber light, this is also the stability-control system alerting you that the car is beginning to slide from your intended path. Again, ease back on the accelerator until you are no longer applying any throttle; this allows the car to regain grip. Do not accelerate aggressively when turning tight corners in town on snowy or slushy streets. Always ease into the accelerator so that you slowly gain speed yet keep full control.

Look Here!

If you feel your car beginning to skid, always, always, look where you want to go—not where the car is heading at that precise moment. Let your peripheral vision take care of whatever you’re trying to avoid. Race drivers know that you almost always end up where you are looking; that’s one of the reasons they’re so good at recovering from skids.

Make your appointment with our well-trained and experienced team at Automotive Specialties. We take every measure to ensure you are satisfied with all your auto body, paint, and mechanic needs. Since 1983 we have been serving the community and are eager to earn your business and remain life-long clients. Explore our website or call us at (630) 553-0397 today. We look forward to serving you! Like us on Facebook to stay up-to-date on current tips, and specials.