Icy winter roads in Connecticut can pose a serious safety threat to drivers. But planning ahead and knowing how to drive in hazardous conditions can reduce your risk of an accident.
When preparing for winter driving, consider that there are both hazards of a vehicular accident and car failure — and that either could leave a driver stranded in severe weather. Taking certain steps ahead of time can help you avoid the worst. The National Safety Council offers useful suggestions to winter drivers.
Before you drive
Before you drive your car in wintry conditions, know your vehicle and how it handles in severe weather. Test it out in milder conditions before a storm hits. Safety features such as anti-lock brakes and traction control may help you maintain traction and avoid spinning or losing control when braking. Other tips to consider include:
- Know about any safety sensors your car uses, and know where they are. Keep these in working order and free of obstructions. Always keep a stocked emergency kit in your car that accounts for both repairs and personal safety in the snow.
- Maintaining your vehicle can make all the difference in wintry conditions. Keep your cooling system in good shape, and keep wiper blades robust and wiper fluid full — making sure that the fluid has a rating appropriate for freezing temperatures.
- Test your battery more often during winter as temperature drops can reduce battery power. Use tires with deeper tread, and replace tires if the tread gets less than one-sixteenth of an inch. Remember that your tire pressure will drop with the temperature.
- Check your vehicle before leaving your house. Remove any dirt, ice or debris that could block your vision. Check all mirrors, windows and cameras.
- Consider leaving your car to run for a while to warm up before driving, but remember to never let it run in your garage as this could create a risk of carbon monoxide poisoning.
- Make sure you have at least a half tank of gas at all times. This will also help you keep your gas line from freezing.
While you drive
If you decide to go out, drive with caution. Accelerate and decelerate gradually. Changes in speed could precipitate a loss in traction, so approach them slowly. Whenever possible, drive up and down hills without braking. If you must brake, use extreme caution. Additional tips include:
- Do not use cruise control if the roads may be icy. Your car’s cruise control does not have the same judgment as you about dangerous conditions and cannot see approaching hazards.
- If your car does skid, steer in the same direction as the skid instead of against it. This will help you maintain control when your wheels regain traction.
- Always leave a greater distance between your and other vehicles on the road. Other drivers may not practice the same caution you would in the same circumstance, so drive defensively.
- Always use good judgment. If the weather forecast is particularly severe, consider delaying your trip until it passes.
It is important to learn about the ways to drive safely on icy or snowy roads before a snow storm. Understanding what steps to take before you drive can help you feel more confident behind the wheel and hopefully reduce the chances of getting into an accident.