The best advice for driving in snowy or icy conditions is to not drive at all, if you can help it. According to the National Safety Council, their advice on winter driving is to not go out until the snow plows and sanding trucks have had a chance to do their dirty work. And allow yourself extra time to reach your destination (where you can do your dirty work). A little practice in an empty parking lot doesn’t hurt, as practice makes perfect (except in relationships). Most winter accidents occur after the first snow of the season because people have been out of practice since the last winter. Make sure before you go out there, that you know how to handle the road conditions.

A winter care kit is always good to put together and keep in your vehicle. A blanket (or in my case a warm boyfriend will suffice), ice scraper, bottled water, hand warmers, a shovel, jumper cables, tow and tire chains, a tool kit and a properly inflated spare tire are some of the important things you should have on your checklist. A bag of salt is also good to have. Cat litter will work just as well…or maybe even the cat…you can use it to keep you warm if you don’t have a boyfriend, or if needed, use it to wedge under your stuck tire to get better traction…did I go too far?? Or, an option, you could also use the boyfriend to wedge under the tire for traction…there, is that better??

A few easy tips for winter car safety are as follows (don’t worry, there won’t be a test) :

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  • Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don’t use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Don’t pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you’re likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  • Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.

In addition, if you start to skid, take your foot off the gas. Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go (i.e. if your rear wheels are sliding left, steer left…if they’re sliding right, steer right). If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering wheel toward that side and repeat the process smoothly until you have your vehicle under control. If your wheels are sliding and you cannot get it under control, you may want to start praying alot and then eventually, when you do stop (and you WILL…hard and sudden-like) change your pants. In fact, I would recommend that you put a spare pair of pants in with that winter care kit. See, another convenient reason to find a vacant parking lot to practice in…you’ll want total privacy when you’re changing your pants.

Until next week…good luck with the winter driving and may 2013 bring you peace, love and happiness!

Daun Thompson
Artist / Comedienne / Writer