Don’t let winter hold you hostage. Use these tips to drive safely in snow

car snowy road

Driving in snow makes most people nervous. For some, snow on the ground means that they won’t drive at all. But there are times that driving in snow is necessary. To keep you and your passengers safe, driving in snow should be approached with a great deal of caution.

Here are some tips from the Automobile Association of America for those who must drive in snow:

1. Clean ALL snow from your car before getting underway. (*Only use brushes and scrapers approved for automobile snow and ice removal. Do not use shovels, brooms or other items that can scratch the paint) Be sure to clean snow from the hood, roof, trunk, lights and windows before beginning your trip. This is important for your safety and that of other drivers on the road because once your car heats up, snow and ice can dislodge either sliding down your windshields making it hard for you to see or, becoming airborne to interfere with the vision of other drivers on the road.

2. Know your brakes. It is important that you know how much pressure is needed for your brakes to engage. When breaking on snowy roads, it is important to ease your car to a stop. Stepping on the brakes too abruptly will cause your car to “fish tail”. Fish tail is when the front of the car stops but the rear spins to the side. To avoid injuring yourself and others when breaking, reduce the normal travel speed on the road and increase following distance to cars in front of you to 10 seconds behind instead of the normal three to four seconds.

3. Don’t power up hills. If you need to climb a hill, keep your car at a steady speed, staying far enough behind the vehicle in front of you to observe how that vehicle is reacting to the hill and to be able to safely get around that vehicle should it spin out or slide. As you crest the hill, reduce your speed considerably to allow a gentle traction and gravity to help you travel down the hill as slowly as possible. Minimize the use of your brake. If you need to slow down, apply the brake as gently as possible so that your vehicle does not spin out.

4. Try to wait until the roads are plowed before venturing out. If traveling on the highway, drive in the lane that is most clear and avoid changing lanes as much as possible. Remember, even if a road looks cleared, black ice conditions can cause you to skid. Since it is not possible to see black ice, drive slowly and observe the vehicles driving ahead of you so that you can have some idea of how the vehicle is reacting to road conditions.

5. Use low or alternate gears. If your car is equipped with 4 Wheel Drive, use that gear for driving 20 mph or below. If your car does not have 4 Wheel Drive, shift into low gear for driving 20 mph or below

Knowing your vehicle and keeping it maintained before you venture out onto a snowy road is important to keeping you and others safe.  If you need your vehicle serviced before the weather turns cold, call 718 948-8585 for an appointment.