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10 Defensive-driving tips for rough weather

Mary Fetzer is a freelance writer and marketing consultant with a marketing degree from Penn State University and 15 years of international business experience. Mary specializes in writing about parenting, children, pregnancy, college, h...

Drive safely in snow

Even the world's best driver has to be on high alert when the weather turns nasty. Arm yourself (and your vehicle) for the worst and hope for the best!

Car driving in snow

1

Maintain your vehicle

Prepare your car for dangerous conditions by keeping up with regular service appointments and making sure all equipment is in proper working order. You or your service technician should keep an eye on belts, wipers, fluids, the battery and more.

2

Wait for the snowplow

Before you hit the highway, give road crews an opportunity to make it more drivable. Then, choose the lanes with the least amount of ice and snow.

3

Slow down

"The most important thing to keep in mind when you're driving in rain or snow is simply to slow down," says auto expert Stan Markuze, founder of PartMyRide.com. "The regular speed limits don't apply in severe weather, and driving too fast increases the chances of hydroplaning and losing control."

4

Keep your distance

When roads are slick, reaction time is hindered.

"Create some distance (two or three car lengths) to reduce the chances of a collision, especially when you come across another driver who's driving too quickly or aggressively," says Markuze.

5

Use caution on bridges

"Bridges and overpasses are made of concrete, and unlike dirt or asphalt, [they] don't retain any heat," says Bret Bodas, director of automotive professional services at RepairPal.com. "The whipping wind and chilly temperatures may cause an overpass to freeze even when the rest of the road is clear."

6

Keep both hands on the wheel

Ideally, you drive with two hands regardless of weather conditions, but it's especially important when the roads are touchy. If your car starts to lose control, the best thing you can do is maintain control of the steering wheel. Keep both hands firmly in place and don't oversteer or make sudden movements.

7

Take your foot off the pedal

If you do you hit a slippery spot, you must regain as much traction as possible between your tires and the road. If your wheels lock and you start to slide, don't pump! Instead, release the brake pedal (or let up on the gas) until you recover traction and then slowly apply the brake again.

8

Skip the cruise control

"Don't use the cruise control when driving in bad weather," says Bodas. "You want to be able to slow down when approaching corners and turns, which are notorious for hiding icy spots."

And remember to brake before, not during, a turn.

9

Invest in snow tires

If you live in a region with wintry roads, consider putting snow tires on your vehicle. Bridgestone Blizzak snow tires, for example, are engineered with tread patterns and tread depth that improve traction in dangerous wintry conditions.

10

Prepare for the worst

Despite all of your efforts, you may still find yourself involved in a car accident. Be prepared for roadside emergencies with a blanket, extra boots and gloves, an ice scraper, windshield washer fluid, jumper cables, a first-aid kit, flares, a small snow shovel, a flashlight and bottled water.

note

Download onto your phone an app such as RepairPal that can help you find a reputable local repair shop 24/7.

More car and driving tips

How to fix your flat tire
How to winterize your vehicle
Tips for driving in the rain

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