Winter driving tips from the Connecticut Department of Transportation

By ConnDOT
Connecticut - posted Mon., Dec. 16, 2013
- Contributed Photo

Winter driving is a tricky and dangerous business. Better roads, better cars and better tires won’t take the place of careful driving practices. To keep your experience with winter driving from becoming a crash-course, here are a few driving tips from the Connecticut Department of Transportation:

Time: Give yourself plenty of extra time for getting to your destination. Speed limits are for perfect, dry conditions. On winter’s icy roadways, half the speed limit may be dangerous.

Vision: Take the time to clear all windows of snow, ice or fog before starting out. Also clear any snow off the hood – it comes loose when driving.

Lights: Even though you can see, drive with low-beam headlights in snow, fog or just winter murk. Keep all lenses free of dirt by wiping them periodically. Dirty headlights can cut visibility by 50 percent or more. Don’t forget the directional lights, taillights and rotating lights.

Tires: Be sure your tires have adequate tread for traction in snow and to reduce the risk of hydroplaning in rain or puddles on the road. You may hear that putting extra weight in the trunk or truck bed gives better traction. Traction might be helped a little, but at the expense of steering control and longer stopping distance. Likewise, you may hear that reducing tire pressure is another way of increasing traction. Reducing air pressure will not give you more traction and your tires could become seriously under-inflated, affecting steering.

Ice/Freezing Rain: At 30 degrees, ice is twice as slippery as it is at 0 degrees. It also forms first and lasts longer on bridges and in the shade. If you hit an unexpected patch, don’t try to brake, accelerate or downshift. Let up on your accelerator and let your vehicle “roll” through the slippery area. When freezing rain is occurring, resulting in icing conditions, please pull over to the side of the road until the road has been treated with sand and salt.

Skidding: If you go into a skid, act quickly by taking your foot off the accelerator. Keep your foot off the brake and steer in the direction the rear of the vehicle is skidding. In other works, if you want your vehicle to go right, turn right. If you want it to go left, turn left. Hold the steering wheel firmly, but don’t make large turns. Use a light touch to correct the swerve.

Braking: Your owner’s manual will usually recommend the braking technique most effective for your car. For front- and rear-wheel-drive vehicles with disc or drum brakes, the National Safety Council recommends the following procedure: Squeeze your brakes with a slow, steady pressure until just before they lock. When you feel them start to lock, ease off until your wheels are rolling; then squeeze again.

Following Distance: Maintain at least three times the normal following distance on snow or ice. If you are being followed too closely, maintain an extra distance behind the vehicle ahead so that you can slow down or brake gradually. Be prepared to adjust speed and /or stop to avoid colliding with the vehicle in front of you. Plan ahead when approaching intersections so that braking can be done smoothly.

Stay on the Beaten Path: Stay in line when traveling to or from a snow zone. Don’t blaze your own trail, especially going downhill – you’ll only manage to create a worse situation. You’ll even clog the only open space emergency snow vehicles can travel.

Safety Belts and Child Safety Seats: In addition to keeping you in the vehicle during a collision, they will also keep you and your child from being thrown around inside your vehicle, should you go into a skid or hit an object. Use safety belts/seat at all times – it’s the law.

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