Winter Weather Driving Tips

How to Drive Safely During the Winter

traffic driving on snow covered highwayDriving in the winter brings a variety of challenges from snow, ice, freezing rain, and more. Although, we can't stop the weather, we can plan ahead to help us get where we want to be.

A good starting place is to make sure your car is winterized before the winter months come. You should also make sure you have the right car insurance coverage. Start your free car insurance quote today!

Once you've done that, check out some tips on how to stay safe during the winter.

Protect Your Windshield

There's a right way and wrong way to clear off your windshield.

Tips to properly clear your windshield:

  • First, start your car and turn on the front and rear defrosters. This can help soften the ice and snow which will make clearing it easier. Bonus! This will also help warm up the inside of your car.
  • When you're ready to begin scraping the ice, go for a plastic ice scraper. They're less likely to damage or scratch the surface of the glass.
  • Make sure your car has plenty of windshield washer fluid before you get out on the slush, salt, and sand covered roads.

Do not try this to clear your windshield:

  • Do not use hot water, unless you like that shattered glass look.
  • Your wipers weren't made for heavy lifting. Only use them after you've completely cleared off the snow and ice from your windshield.

Shoveling Out Your Car

  • When clearing off your car, use brushes designed for auto snow removal.
  • Don't forget to clear off your roof! In fact, failing to clean off your car can be illegal. You don't want a block of ice the size of a mattress flying off your car into traffic.
  • Don't forget to brush off your mirrors, head and tail lights, and license plates.
  • Check your tailpipe to be sure it's free of snow whenever your car is running. If you don't it could cause a poisonous buildup of carbon monoxide.
  • When you are ready to hit the road, shovel around your wheels, under the front, and rear bumpers to clear away any snow.
  • Above all, please be careful out there.

Driving in Snow and Ice

Follow these driving tips to keep yourself safe and secure when roads are slippery.

  • Slow down. It seems simple but can be easy to forget. In normal conditions, it's recommended to maintain a following distance of 3 seconds between you and another car. On winter roads, increase that to a full 8 to 10 seconds. Yes, that may mean slow going, but a little patience will keep you a lot safer on the road.
  • How to get unstuck. Don't spin your wheels. You'll just dig yourself into a deeper hole. Instead, determine the path of least resistance between your car and solid ground. Then, clear the snow behind and in front of all four tires and liberally spread sand or kitty litter in front of and behind the drive wheels. Keep in mind that the sharper your front wheels are turned, the more resistance to movement in either direction you create. Consequently, try to keep the front tires as straight as possible.
  • Skid safety. If your car skids, keep a cool head, and follow these steps:
    • Don't panic
    • Take your foot off the gas
    • Don't slam on the brakes
    • Steer your car in the direction you want to go
    • Wait for the car to slow down so you can regain control

You can prepare for a skid by practicing. Go to an open parking lot and practice braking on icy or snowy surfaces. More importantly, you'll better know how to handle yourself when you skid in traffic.