How to drive in snow or ice

Posted in Auto

Two tires on a dark vehicle roll over a road that is covered in snow.

If you’re not certain how to drive in snow or ice, winter driving conditions can be tricky. Gain confidence in your winter driving abilities by preparing your vehicle and learning how to navigate slippery, icy road conditions. We’ll walk you through steps you can take to make driving in winter easier and safer.

Winter weather risks on the road

Whether you’re a new driver, a new resident in a snowy region or a confident driver in the snow and ice, it’s important to know the risks of driving in winter weather. Here are some of the factors that can impact the roads:

  • Precipitation—snow, hail or a rain-and-snow mix can impair visibility while you drive.
  • Snow accumulation—when the ground is cold enough, snow can pile up and create slippery road conditions.
  • Ice formations—ice and black ice can form on the road when temperatures fall below 32 degrees Fahrenheit.

Your vehicle may also play a role in the difficulty of navigating winter roads. For example, rear-wheel drive, front-wheel drive, four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles will all have different performance levels. The best options are four-wheel drive and all-wheel drive vehicles for driving in snow or ice. Consumer Reports says rear-wheel drive, “provides less traction on slippery roads” than other options.

If you live in a snowy area, consider four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive vehicles for optimal performance in winter weather conditions.

Prepare your car for winter

There are several ways you can get your vehicle ready for driving in winter:

  1. Check your tire pressure regularly and consider keeping a tire gauge in your glove compartment.
  2. Top off your windshield washer fluid regularly and consider a winter formula to help with ice buildup.
  3. Place an emergency kit in your trunk or backseat with water, non-perishable snacks, a blanket, a flashlight, jumper cables and other items to use if you are stranded.
  4. Get your vehicle serviced to check on the battery, windshield wipers, engine belts and more.
  5. Always keep your gas tank at least 50% full.
  6. Check tire tread depth to make sure they offer enough traction for winter road conditions.
  7. Consider putting snow tires on your wheels if you live in an area with heavy snowfall or icy conditions.

Use this list to prepare for a winter road trip or your typical winter driving needs. Make sure you also have roadside assistance for help during an emergency. Talk to an Integrity independent agent today to learn more about roadside assistance that you can add to your auto insurance.

How to drive in snow

When driving in the winter, you should be mindful of the differences between driving on snow versus dry, warmer road conditions. Follow these winter driving tips to stay safe on the road when snow is present:

  • Drive the speed limit to minimize risk of a speed-related accident.
  • Keep six to 10 car lengths of distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.
  • Start braking early when coming up to a red light or stop sign.
  • Leave with plenty of time to travel so you aren’t in a rush.
  • Turn on four-wheel drive or all-wheel drive terrain if your vehicle is equipped with it.
  • Do not use your cruise control because the snow blocks road markers your car sensor uses to operate cruise control properly.
  • Brake and accelerate in a straight line to avoid fishtailing or spinning out.

As always, make sure you clear the snow and ice off your vehicle before you start your travel. Use a brush and ice scraper to knock off the snow and ice with a focus on your front and back windshields, side windows, headlights and taillights. If you can reach, make sure to clear snow off the top of your vehicle so it doesn’t fly into the road or fall down your front windshield while you’re driving.

Driving in the snow is not for everyone. If you decide not to drive in the snow, you may consider planning your errands around weather predictions to be on the safe side. Consider downloading a weather app on your mobile phone from your favorite local news outlet or The Weather Channel to get the latest weather forecast in your area. You can also find current road conditions from your local news outlet to plan your route before you leave.

How to drive on ice

There aren’t many differences between knowing how to drive in snow or ice. Follow these tips in addition to the methods for driving on snow to remain safe on the road:

Tip #1 If you don’t have to travel, the safest option is to stay at home.

Tip #2 If you are already traveling, stop your journey when it starts to snow or temperatures drop below freezing (32 degrees Fahrenheit) to avoid the ice.

Tip #3 Consider how winter roads are treated in your area before making a trip to the store or an event. If your city salts the roads before a storm and plows snow around-the-clock while it falls, your driving conditions will vary greatly from unplowed and untreated roads.

Tip #4 If you start sliding on a patch of ice, do not slam the brakes first. When the back of your vehicle begins to slide or “fishtail” you should turn your front wheels in the same direction. For example, if you start sliding to the right, you should turn right to turn into the slide. This will straighten out your car and help you regain control of your vehicle.

Tip #5 Always make sure you are seen and can see your surroundings. Replacing your windshield wipers and scraping snow and ice off your car can go a long way for accident prevention. Turn your lights on and use your hazards to notify other drivers when you’re driving below the speed limit.

The tread depth of each tire is one of the most important factors for traction while driving in winter. No matter if you have all-season tires or snow tires, experts recommend 6/32-inch deep tread for the best traction.

Choose Integrity for roadside assistance this winter

Get the help you need during winter driving conditions from Integrity’s roadside assistance. You can expect lockout services, fuel delivery, electric vehicle charging, towing, tire services, help with engine trouble and more. Choose the right tier of coverage to fit your needs and budget. Best of all, you can use the convenient mobile app or call the 24/7 roadside assistance hotline to request service.


This article is for informational and suggestion purposes only. Implementing these suggestions does not guarantee coverage. If any policy coverage descriptions in this article conflict with the language in the policy, the language in the policy applies. For full details on Integrity’s auto insurance coverages and discounts, contact your local independent agent.


Sources:
Consumer Reports
US News
Edmunds
Local 12


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