7 Common Mistakes Drivers Make In Snow And Ice

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7 Common Mistakes Drivers Make In Snow And Ice

Winter has arrived for many across the United States. Colder temps, snow, ice, freezing rain… Yup, winter is going to stick around for awhile, and there is not much else we can do but be prepared for the weather and for winter driving.

Time to Get Serious

Many drivers don’t get as serious about winter weather driving though, and because of it, crashes become a common occurrence on roads and motorways in almost every state. We’re certain you’ve seen them too. The car in front of you moving along the road with snow piled on the roof or ice covering the windows. A car flying past you during a snowstorm, when others are driving 20 miles per hour. Those are just a few mistakes drivers make when driving in snow and ice. Yet, they are completely preventable if we just take that extra time and avoid them!

Read on how to prevent a crash in winter by avoiding 7 common winter driving mistakes.

#1: Not Being Prepared

Driving during any season one of the most important things to do is be prepared. In winter, it is even more important, and that means having an emergency kit in your car at all times. Getting stranded in a snow bank or sliding off the side of the road during a snowstorm, it could be hours before you get help. Keeping emergency items in your car that includes things like a change of extra warm clothes, a first-aid kit, a blanket, gloves, shovel, and roadside flares or reflectors ensures you have what you need most in case the unthinkable happens and you are stuck.

#2: Not Clearing Your Car of Snow and Ice (Completely)

Many drivers get lazy during winter. The snow and ice covers your roof, windshield, windows, and hood or trunk, and you’re late for work, so you just clear a few windows with your windshield wipers and then off you go. It is the worst thing you can do and extremely dangerous. In fact it is so dangerous, many states have made it illegal with hefty fines if you are caught driving without properly clearing your car off. Snow can slide onto your front windshield and cover your view or become dislodged and hit another motorist. Nothing good comes from not clearing off your car. Give yourself enough time to completely clear your car; even if it means getting out the door earlier than normal. You can turn the defrosters on and let the car and engine warm up, which is always an added benefit. Just make sure you are there with your car if you have the key in the ignition to warm it and never be in an enclosed environment like the garage.

#3: Driving Too Fast

We heard a great phrase when it comes to driving speeds during winter weather. It states, “it’s better to be driving slow and wish you were going faster than to be driving fast and wish you were going slower.” That couldn’t be more true when it comes to driving in snow and ice. Many drivers just go too fast. No car is going to win when it goes up against black ice - not even the big SUVs and large trucks. Black ice will win and you aren’t going to like the outcome either. Slowing down allows time to react if someone spins out in front of you, you hit some ice, or you have to make a sudden stop. Slow down and just get to your destination safely.

#4: Driving Too Close To Snowplows

It’s dangerous to try and beat snowplows or attempt to pass. The plows are out there to help keep the roads safe for everyone, so it’s better to drive slowly on a cleared road than try and pass when the road is full of ice and snow. Keep at least six car lengths behind an operating snowplow, turn on your headlights, and never pass snowplows when they are side-by-side in a plow train formation. Move away from the center line when a snowplow is approaching from the front and don’t ever drive in their blindspots either. Just allow them space and time to do what they are there to do - which is keep you safe.

#5: Driving Too Close

Give yourself and the car in front of you plenty of space. Tailgating is a bad habit to get into under the best driving conditions, and it is even worse in winter weather. If you don’t have enough time to stop should the vehicle in front of you stop suddenly or spin out on ice, that 8-second rule in following distance during the winter season is your safest spot to drive in snow and ice.

#6: Panic If Your Car Starts Skidding

As mentioned, black ice is going to be your worst enemy regardless of the size or weight of your vehicle, and it can be scary to hit a patch and start sliding out of control. The best thing to do is keep calm, don’t brake or accelerate, or jerk the wheel with any sudden movements. If you have proper tires with tread on your vehicle, you will not lose traction and your car will come out of the slip. This is also where speed and distance are key, as going slower enables you to retain control and keeping a safe distance from cars around you ensures you won’t end up hitting someone. Good thing to remember is to be extra careful crossing over bridges and overpasses, because they lose heat faster than the ground, so ice accumulates quickly. Be cautious when driving over these types of structures.

#7: Not Being A Calm Driver

It is important to not lose your wits or get overly stressed while driving in snow and ice. Panic, lack of concentration, distractions, or discomfort driving in the snow and ice are all recipes for disasters that lead to crashes. Familiarize yourself with driving in winter conditions, such as going to an empty parking lot and getting used to how your car handles the snow and ice. Being comfortable and maintaining control of any vehicle, in any condition is the best bet to avoid making serious mistakes while driving in winter.

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