The best advice for driving in bad winter weather is not to drive at all, if you can avoid it. Don't go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their work, and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.
If you must drive in snowy conditions, make sure your car is prepared, and that you know how to handle road conditions.
- Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop.
- Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
- Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
- Don't pass snow plows or sanding trucks.
- Check your tires. To have adequate snow traction, a tire requires at least 6/32-inch deep tread (according to tire retail giant, Tire Rack). If you live where the roads are regularly covered with snow or ice, especially if you live in a region with lots of hills, use snow tires.
- Keep your lights and windshield clean. Replace windshield wiper blades. Make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid.
- Run the air-conditioner. In order to remove condensation and frost from the interior of windows, engage your air conditioner and select the fresh air option.
- Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists. Make sure your headlights and taillights are clear of snow.
- Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock-up, ease off the brakes. Learn how to get maximum efficiency from your brakes before you need them in an emergency situation.
- Watch carefully for black ice. If the road looks slick, it probably is.
- Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first.
- Avoid rear-tire slides by driving a vehicle with electronic stability control (or traction control), and make sure your rear tires have at least as much tread as your front tires do. If you buy winter tires, get all four.
- Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.