Winter Weather Driving Tips- Hardin County Sheriff’s Office

Written by on February 4, 2022

Winter Driving Tips:

Stock Your Vehicle – Carry items in your vehicle to handle common winter driving-related tasks, and supplies you might need in an emergency, including:

• Snow shovel, broom, and ice scraper

• Abrasive material such as sand or kitty litter, in case your vehicle gets stuck in the snow • Jumper cables, flashlight, and warning devices such as flares and emergency markers • Blankets for protection from the cold

• A cell phone with charger, water, food, and any necessary medicine (for longer trips or when driving in lightly populated areas).

Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.

Remove snow and ice from your entire car – Be sure to clear all of your windows, mirrors and front and rear lights so that you can see and communicate with other drivers. Clear the roof, hood and rear of the vehicle, before you start driving. Snow and ice left on the car can fly off when the vehicle is moving and create a hazard for other motorists.

Check your tires – Make certain they are properly inflated and have plenty of tread. Fill up the tank – Make sure your car or vehicle has at least a half a tank of fuel during extreme cold situations so that you can stay warm if you become stranded.

Stay Alert – On longer trips, plan enough time to stop to stretch, get something to eat, return calls or text messages, and change drivers or rest if you feel drowsy.

Avoid Risky Driving Behaviors – You know the rules: Do not text or drive distracted; obey posted speed limits; and always drive sober. Both alcohol and drugs whether legal or illicit can cause impairment. It is illegal to drive impaired by any substance in all States – no exceptions. Alcohol and drugs can impair the skills critical for safe and responsible driving such as coordination, judgment, perception, and reaction time.

Plan Your Travel and Route – Before heading out, make sure to check the weather, road conditions, and traffic. Don’t rush through your trip, and allow plenty of time to get to your destination safely. Always familiarize yourself with directions and maps before you go, even if you use a GPS system, and let others know your route and anticipated arrival time.

Tips for Driving in the Snow:

• Stay home – Only go out if necessary; even if you can drive well in bad weather, it’s better to avoid taking unnecessary risks by venturing out.

• Drive slowly – Always adjust your speed down to account for lower traction when driving on snow or ice.

• Accelerate and decelerate slowly – Apply the gas slowly to regain traction and avoid skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry and take time to slow down gradually to stops. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on icy roads. Increase your following distance to five to six seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you must stop.

• Know your brakes – Whether you have antilock brakes or not, keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.

• Don’t stop if you can avoid it. – There’s a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do it.

• Don’t power up hills – Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads will just make your wheels spin. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill slowly.

• Don’t stop, going up a hill – There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get some inertia going on a flat roadway before you take on the hill.

• Do not use cruise control – Even roads that appear clear can have sudden slippery spots and the short touch of your brakes to deactivate the cruise control feature can cause you to lose control of your vehicle.

• Navigating Around Snow Plows – Don’t crowd a snow plow or travel beside it. Snow plows travel slowly, make wide turns, stop often, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently. However, the road behind an active snow plow is safer to drive on. If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay behind it or use caution when passing. In an Emergency: If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, follow these safety rules:

• Stay with your vehicle – Your vehicle provides temporary shelter and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do not try to walk in a severe storm. It is easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and become lost.

• Don’t over-exert yourself – When digging out your vehicle, listen to your body and stop if you become tired. • Be Visible – Tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna of your vehicle or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.

• Clear the Exhaust Pipe – Make sure the exhaust pipe is not clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust pipe can cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment of the vehicle while the engine is running.

• Stay Warm – Use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers or paper maps. Pre-pack blankets and heavy clothing to use in case of an emergency.

• Conserve Fuel – If possible, only run the engine and heater long enough to remove the chill. This will help to conserve fuel.


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