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How can I drive safely in snow and icy weather conditions?

Driving in snow and icy conditions can be very dangerous. The roads can be slippery, visibility can be poor, and driving conditions can change quickly from possible to impossible, and even deadly, during a blizzard.

snowy road

Storms can also cause drivers to be stranded for hours before help can reach them.

If the temperature drops below 32 degrees, the water on the road or snow can freeze. Black ice is the thin layer of transparent ice that is formed on the pavement due to freezing weather. Black ice is very dangerous because it is transparent and blends with the pavement, and drivers cannot spot it.

The difference between driving on snow and ice is that when driving in snow, the tires have some traction (or grabbing power of the pavement), but when driving on ice, there is no traction and your tires tend to slide on ice.

If you happen to drive over black ice, do not panic or make any sudden turns or sudden stops, do not accelerate, and do not try to overcorrect steering; instead, keep your steering wheel steady and let your car pass over it.

Bottom Line: Try to avoid driving in snow and especially on the ice. If you cannot avoid traveling during snow and ice, follow these techniques to stay safer when driving in snow and icy conditions:

  • If you have snow or ice accumulated on your car, clear your car of snow and ice before you drive.
  • Slow down and drive at a safe speed. On ice, inch forward slowly. Driving even more than a few miles per hour could cause you to lose control.
  • Avoid making sudden stops, turns, changes in direction, or acceleration.
  • Keep more distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Use your turn signals in advance so the vehicle behind you has more time to slow down.
  • Use your headlights at the appropriate times and the correct levels for visibility levels.
  • Carry tire chains in your vehicle, know how to install them, and install them before driving when chains are required.
  • Equip your vehicle with all-weather radial tires or snow tires. Snow tires are built to create better traction; although you will notice an improvement in control of your vehicle by having snow tires, your tires may still slide on slippery conditions.