Driving in winter weather conditions can be very hazardous. If you live in an area that typically experiences snow and ice in the winter months (like Fort Wayne), you need to be aware of the extra precautions that drivers must take if they plan to drive in these conditions. The following tips will help you navigate snowy or icy road conditions.

1 The best tip for driving in severe winter weather conditions is to avoid it. If you do not have to travel to work or school, try your best to stay off the roads. There is no reason to put yourself in danger if driving in snow and ice is not necessary.

2 If you must drive in winter weather, be sure to allow extra time to drive from one place to another. Make sure that you are not in a rush to get anywhere. You will be forced to drive at slower than normal speeds and are more likely to be stalled by accidents when driving in winter weather conditions. You can’t expect to reach your destination within the same time frame as in summer

3 Slow down. Speeding is never smart but speeding on snowy or icy roads can be deadly. Be prepared to drive significantly slower than you normally would on dry roadways. Reducing your speed will allow you to have more time to react if you encounter a problem.

4 During normal driving conditions, it is recommended to keep 3 seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. However, during snowy & icy conditions, you need to increase that distance to at least 8-9 seconds between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you in order to 
allow proper braking and any unexpected situations.

5 Drive with your lights on, even during the day. Winter weather conditions reduce visibility. Even if it is not snowing, sleeting, or icing now...your headlights will serve as an extra safety precaution.

6 Use a lower gear to provide more traction. Your vehicle will be less likely to accelerate quickly if it begins to slide on an icy road if it is being driven in a lower gear. Also, never use cruise control in winter weather conditions. Cruise control takes vehicle control away from you which is extremely dangerous on slippery roads.

7 Never pass snowplows. This is because when snowplows operate in tandem formation, multiple plows are staggered diagonally to cover all lanes and clear the entire roadway in one sweep. It is extremely dangerous for motorists to try and pass plows in this formation because you could encounter white-out conditions and ridges of snow between lanes. Also, never pass a snowplow on the right as some are equipped with a wing plow on that side. Finally, don't follow too closely behind a snowplow; stay at least 200 feet behind it.

8 Never overestimate your vehicle’s ability to handle winter weather conditions. While 4x4 and All Wheel Drive vehicles give you extra traction, they are still susceptible to loosing traction on snowy and icy roads. If you are skeptical, find another means of transportation.

9 People are often unsure of how to recover control of their vehicle if the wheels lock up because of icy or snowy road conditions. If your rear wheels lock up, take your foot off the accelerator, turn your steering wheel in the direction you want your front wheels to go, apply steady pressure to anti-lock brakes or gently pump standard brakes. If your front wheels lock up, allow the steering wheel to turn freely, remove your foot from the accelerator, shift into neutral, then slowly begin to steer the vehicle as it slows down from turning. The best thing to keep in mind if you lose control of your vehicle on an icy road is the importance of not making any sudden maneuvers. Allow your vehicle to slow down before attempting to regain control.

10. Even if there is no snow or icy to deal with, make sure that you completely defrost your front and back windshields before driving in the winter (you can read another blog from Big City Cars titled “How to Defrost your Windows FAST). Frost significantly reduces your visibility. Wait until it is completely melted before driving.

Again, if it is not necessary that you drive in winter weather conditions, do not get behind the wheel. Drivers who must brave icy roadways need to keep in mind that patience is necessary. Exert extra caution when driving in winter road conditions. It is also a good idea to stay prepared for accidents or stalls by keeping a warm blanket, bottle of water, a snack, and other emergency supplies in your vehicle.

We hope that you find this information useful. And as always … safe journeys on your trips around town. Big City Cars is located at 4910 Lima Road, just down from Costco. Or give us a call today at (260) 212-1111. We look forward to helping you get into a quality preowned vehicle that fits your lifestyle & budget.