Tips for Safe Winter Driving

Ah, fresh snow. The whole world seems a little bit more beautiful covered in a powdery white blanket. But then it hits you-you’ve gotta drive in the stuff.

See, the biggest problem with driving in the winter is that things like ice, snow, and of course, slush, could make driving unsafe if you don’t know what you’re doing. You’re dealing with variable road conditions, other drivers, and sometimes fresh snow too.

So here’s five tips to lower your chances of spinning out by driving smarter this winter.

inscription winter on snow on the back window of car

1. Avoid sudden movements as much as you can.

Hitting the gas or the brakes or quickly changing directions could lead to a spin out if you’re not careful.

Traction is hard to find on winter roads sometimes. Your car needs traction in order to maintain a smooth and steady course, and the best traction is found on dry pavement. But you’re not guaranteed dry pavement in the winter. So be as smooth as you can with changing speed or direction.

Closeup of car tires in winter

2. Double or triple following length.

You never know what other people are going to do out there, so it’s best to give yourself significant distance between you and the other drivers.

If they decide to hit the brakes or make any sort of sudden movement, you need to have time for both you and the car to react. Given that there’s always the possibility of black ice or slush, you need to factor that in too and give yourself more distance between you and the other cars than you usually do. You won’t regret it.

Iced car window

3. Drive in other people’s tracks.

This is especially useful if there’s slush on the ground. Don’t be overconfident with your movements when dealing with slush. Sudden lane changes and even just venturing out of other people’s tracks could be a simple recipe for getting stuck or losing traction. Which just isn’t fun.

Caution

4. Down shift when you need to make a turn.

When you make a turn on a flat plane in iffy road conditions, shift your car into neutral.

Your car’s engine is designed to do something very simple-make your car go. That’s why when you shift into gear and let your foot off the brake, the car moves forward on its own.

So when you’re making a turn, the car is naturally designed to keep moving forward. Under normal driving conditions, that’s not a problem. But say you’ve hit some ice. Your first instinct might be to hit the brakes but now you’re fighting against the car’s built-in forward motion, and so your chances of going into a spin are higher.

It’s best to shift into neutral so that, if you need to, you can brake safely.

ice scraping

5. Relax.

It’s much easier to respond to any sort of challenge on the road if you’re relaxed and calm.

Take a few deep breaths. Trust your instincts, be smart, and stay alert. Hundreds of people drive the winter roads every day and are just fine, so there’s no reason you can’t do the same.

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