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Driving Tips for Winter Roads

When driving in the winter, you will want to make sure you follow some tips and guidelines to ensure you have the safest driving experience. Allow yourself the extra time to drive more slowly. Other motorists will be driving slowly, and overtaking may not be an option. You don’t need the
extra stress of being late for an appointment. Clear the snow off of all the windows and mirrors before you drive. This prevents snow falling and impairing your vision, or the vision of other drivers. Don’t leave a lot of snow on the roof. It has been known to slide forward under braking and cover the windshield. Also remember to clear front and rear lights, so other people can see you and your signals.

Driving in snow requires anticipation of other road users behavior, as much as looking after your own car. Watch the behavior of oncoming traffic; you may have to avoid them if they slide towards you. Try to leave a 10 second gap between you and the car in front. The 10 second gap allows for increased stopping distances, and gives you time to respond if the car in front has problems. If they stop, you may have time and space to steer a different course, or by slowing down you can allow time for the obstruction to clear without having to stop and restart yourself. Normally you should follow a car at least three seconds, but this should increase if the weather or road conditions are poor.

Also be aware of where ice might be. Look for reflections in the road surface ahead; what looks like water, may be ice. One of the first signs of slippery conditions is if the steering becomes lighter to turn. The action of Anti-lock Braking Systems (ABS) is felt as a vibration of the brake pedal. If you recognize that sensation, it can give you early warning of slippery conditions. If roads are slippery you may see these dashboard warning lights flash when wheel spin is detected under acceleration. They indicate that ABS is being used to slow the fastest turning wheel, or the accelerator is being reduced momentarily. Bright sun and a warm wind can quickly thaw ice, but leave patches in sheltered areas, so be vigilant where a wall casts a shadow over the road.

Also remember that the braking may be affected on bad roads. Brake gently without locking the wheels. If you have ABS, it will repeatedly release the brakes momentarily and then re-apply them, to keep the wheels going round enough for you to steer. Always be aware of the vehicles around you, and allow enough space.

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