How can drivers stay safe while driving in ice and snow?
Winter has come early this year, and though fall is still fighting valiantly to fend it off, we know in the end it will be a losing battle. And so we must again accept the inevitable.
But while we can’t stop winter from coming, we can do our best to be prepared. Once the snow really starts to fall and the roads freeze over, how can one stay safe in Salisbury and the surrounding areas? Here follows a variety of helpful tips, with information courtesy of our good friends at the Maryland Department of Transportation State Highway Administration.
Prepare Your Vehicle
Before the season starts, (or as soon as possible), have your vehicle serviced. A service department should closely inspect your vehicle’s battery, cooling system, windshield wipers, defrosters, and tires. Also, fill up your wiper fluid reservoir with high quality no-freeze fluid.
- As always, buckle up and ensure your passengers do so too.
- If there’s a snow emergency, stay off the road if you can. If you can’t, give yourself plenty of extra time to reach your destination and drive with caution.
- Don’t think you’re invincible because you have four-wheel drive; such vehicles are actually just as vulnerable to slipping on ice as those with two-wheel drive.
- If you start to skid, don’t slam on your brakes. Take your foot off the gas and steer in the direction of the skid.
- Give plenty of extra distance to other vehicles. Especially snowplows. This will provide you with the necessary extra stopping space.
- Remember that bridges and ramps are the first to freeze, so be especially careful on these.
- Never try passing a snowplow or salt truck. They don’t have great visibility, and something bad could result. It’s recommended drivers stay at least 25 feet (three car lengths) behind a snow emergency vehicle.
- If you do get stranded, the safest place to wait for help is in your car. Just be careful not to run your vehicle for too long with the windows up or in an enclosed space. This is to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning. For the same reason, clear your exhaust pipe of any snow and just run the engine sporadically; enough to stay warm.
Before Every Drive:
Before heading out into the Winter Dangerland, make sure your car is properly prepped for the drive; though we don’t have time to get into the details here, there are a variety of items you should have with you in your vehicle. Also make sure that all snow and ice is removed from your car before you go. This is in addition to the seasonal maintenance mentioned above.