Practicing Safety While Driving in Snow
Law enforcement officials give advice for driving safely when snow and ice cover the roads.
There's a green light up ahead. You’re cruising along in an inch or two of snow. The road feels pretty smooth so you’re not too worried. Plus, you know your car. You know what it can do.
The light turns yellow. The car in front of you is slowing. You push down on the brake. Your car slips. You wrestle the wheel. You’re getting close to the car ahead. You honk your horn. The driver in front of you looks up just in time to see you slam into his back bumper.
This is a pretty common scenario when snow pays a visit.
To keep you from experiencing the scenario above, here are some tips for weathering the storm:
James Soules, owner of Focus Driving School, LLC in Bloomingdale, explained that the “biggest thing is to keep a good following distance.”
Butler Police Capt. Ciro Chimento agreed. “Give at least three times the amount of space you would allow during normal conditions," he said.
As Lt. John Schwartz of the Kinnelon Police Department said, speed is the second biggest problem people who get in accidents have when driving in snowy conditions. “People don’t realize how much speed affects your driving in those conditions," he said. "They don’t break soon enough.”
Both law enforcement officials and Soules agreed that over-confidence in your car’s capabilities can be a real detriment.
“A lot of people feel that since they have four-wheel drive, they can go anywhere. They challenge the snow and try to go anywhere. The problem is that you may be able to go but you won’t be able to stop,” Schwartz said.
“A lot of times, people with SUVs, they’re a little more confident in them than they really should be,” Soules said.
Sgt. Mark Johnson, of the Bloomingdale Police Department, gave some snow day advice. “Pay attention to the news broadcasts and when the broadcasts tell you that you really shouldn’t go out unless it’s an absolute emergency, then you should adhere to that advice,” Johnson said.
Schwartz reiterated, “Do not make your normal trips out. Alter your travel behavior and patterns. If you don’t have to leave your house, don’t leave your house. If you know a storm is coming, prepare to stay in your house for a day or two.”
If you must travel during a snowy day, remember to drive slow-much slower than you typically drive-and to keep a fair amount of distance between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If you need to brake, pump your brakes repeatedly instead of slamming on them at the last minute. If you hit your brakes hard at once, your car could slide and you may lose control of the vehicle.