Tips for driving on ice this winter

December 9, 2013 12:00 AM

Anyone who drives in winter conditions likely knows the basics of handling a car in the freezing temperatures and snowy weather. However, there are a few tips that are specific to driving on icy surfaces. Here are some concepts you should keep in mind as you get behind the wheel this winter: 

Do everything slowly
The key to driving on ice is to brake and accelerate slowly. Stomping on a pedal too quickly can lead to skidding or slipping over the roads, so leaving room to stop and start at a slower pace is incredibly important. 

Bypass cruise control 
Features like cruise control can be great for driving in temperature weather, but they are not well-suited for the winter. Drivers need to be in full control of the automobile at all times on the ice, so AAA recommends skipping over cruise control and driver-assist technologies whenever possible. If you are going to utilize these amenities, at least take the vehicle into an auto repair franchise for a tune up, which can ensure that everything is operating as it should. 

Stay aware of the area
Road surfaces like bridges and overpasses can be particularly dangerous to drivers, as they are some of the first areas to freeze and the last to melt. When crossing over one of these spots, be sure to slow down and pay extra attention to the road ahead. Similarly, you should stick to driving in cleared lanes. Switching from lane to lane can cause you to hit patches of ice or snow not cleared by plows, so it's best to try to stay in one area whenever possible. 

Stick with your vehicle
If something happens and you find your vehicle stranded in the snow, don't leave the car to start walking for help. It's better to stay in your automobile, where it is warm and you are protected from the elements, than to walk blindly out into the snow. 

"If you start walking, especially in a storm, you could get lost fairly quickly, depending on visibility," Sgt. Mike Watson, a member of the Missouri State Highway Patrol, told The Associated Press. "Don't overexert yourself, whether to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow. You can always tie a cloth or some brightly colored item to your vehicle."

Before heading out, drivers should make sure their cellphones are charged, and having a charger stored in the vehicle is also a good idea. When sitting in a car with the engine running, make sure snow is not blocking the tailpipe, as that could cause toxic fumes to fill the vehicle. 

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