#1. My first recommendation is to make sure you have had some experience in winter driving if you are not accustomed to it. This is also a good idea for experienced drivers who may not have driven in winter conditions since last year. A good way to do this is to go to a parking lot of a closed business practicing turns and stops etc. This is a good safe way to get prepared for possible road conditions that may come during this season.
It is important to be prepared for winter driving as it is a totally different environment being in ice and snow. There are many potential hazards that can occur, so hopefully these helpful hints will be an assistance to those looking to be safe drivers.
#2. One very important recommendation is to be careful to allow for plenty of braking time as you approach a stop sign or light. It is important to understand and remember that because of snow and ice, possibilities of skidding and sliding are greatly increased compared to normal driving conditions. Not stopping appropriately can lead to something as minor as a fender bender but obviously could also prove fatal if one was unable to stop and went into oncoming traffic.
#3. Use extra caution when on smaller roads. Many times country roads and those that are not highways will not have been cared for as quickly as major roads after snowfalls or freezing rain. It is very common for the salt trucks to service these roads after the highways, so do not assume that these roads are safe. As well the buildup of snow can increase quickly as the now plows again make the highways a priority over the smaller, less utilized roads.
#4. Use extra caution when in mall and apartment store parking lots. Though these normally get plowed in a relatively short time ice patches are normally still present and many times unserviced by a salt truck. Many drivers will assume they are in a quote on quote safe place to drive because they are off the highway and traffic generally is much smaller in a parking lot. This is where caution is needed as the driver needs to be sure to maintain a slow level of speed and drive very carefully, keeping their guard up in case another vehicle cannot stop.
#5. Beware of Pedestrians!! Many pedestrians are concerned more with getting out of the cold than they are safety unfortunately. So especially at crosswalks be extremely careful to allow for appropriate time to brake. Constantly be aware of any pedestrians regardless of the busyness of the particular road you are on. Again, it is imperative to be aware of any foot traffic in your vicinity.
As we consider safety tips for winter driving it is important to be mindful of the safety of others as well as yourself. Driving this time of year demands strict focus and is not a time to be talking on the cell phone or being distracted by playing with a radio dial. While the snow certainly provides much beauty during this season let us not forget to be careful, considerate, and cautious.
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