WINTER WEATHER ROAD SAFETY TIPS
Road Safety Fog
Fog can reduce visibility to 1/4 mile or less, creating hazardous driving conditions. If you can’t postpone your trip until dense fog lifts — usually by late morning or the afternoon – please follow these safety tips:
Drive with lights on low beam. High beams will only be reflected back off the fog and actually impair visibility even more.
Reduce your speed — and watch your speedometer. Fog creates a visual illusion of slow motion when you may actually be speeding.
Listen for traffic you cannot see. Open your window a little, to hear better.
Use wipers and defrosters as necessary for maximum visibility.
Use the right edge of the road or painted road markings as a guide.
Be patient. Do not pass lines of traffic.
Do not stop on a freeway or heavily traveled road. If your car stalls or becomes disabled, turn your vehicle’s lights off, and take your foot off of the brake pedal. People tend to follow tail lights when driving in fog. Move away from the vehicle to avoid injury.
Road Safety: Ice, Sleet, and Snow
Driving in bad winter weather is very hazardous, and it is best to postpone any non-essential trips until later in the day so the sand trucks and snow plows have a chance to clear the road. If you have to be out driving, make sure your vehicle is winterized and that you have a well-stocked emergency kit and that your cell phone is charged.
Winterizing Your Vehicle
Check your vehicle’s owner manual to ensure the vehicle itself is ready for winter weather, including tire pressure and tread wear, anti-freeze levels, windshield wipers, and checking the battery. Put a bag of cat litter or salt rock in your vehicle to help you get unstuck if you lose traction. Ensure you have a good ice scrapper to clean your windows. Carry an emergency kit and ensure it is replenished after each use. Such kits should include but not be limited to:
Working flashlight and extra batteries
Reflective triangles and brightly-colored cloth
First aid kit
Exterior windshield cleaner
Ice scraper and snow brush
Wooden stick matches in a waterproof container
Scissors and string/cord
Non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.
In addition, if you are driving long distances under cold, snowy, and icy conditions, you should also carry supplies to keep you warm such as heavy woolen mittens, socks, a cap and blankets.
Driving Safely on Icy Roads
Decrease 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 car in front of you.
Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
Keep your lights and windshield clean.
Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
If your rear wheels skid…
Take your foot off the accelerator.
Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left. If they’re sliding right, steer right.
If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to get your vehicle completely under control.
If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse — this is normal.
If your front wheels skid…
Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don’t try to steer immediately.
As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in “drive” or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
If you get stuck…
Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.
Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first — it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.
If You Become Stranded…
Do not leave your car unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation.
To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
If you are sure the car’s exhaust pipe is not blocked, run the engine and heater for about 10 minutes every hour or so depending upon the amount of gas in the tank.
To protect yourself from frostbite and hypothermia use the woolen items and blankets to keep warm.
Keep at least one window open slightly. Heavy snow and ice can seal a car shut.
Eat a hard candy to keep your mouth moist.