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Common Winter Driving Hazards & How to Handle Them

Winter presents a number of driving hazards, and the more you know about them up front, the better off you’ll be when driving. Check out these common hazards and learn strategies for handling them when they appear:

Other Drivers

By far, the biggest winter driving hazard is other drivers. It seems like drivers in cold climates have to re-learn how to drive in the snow every year. If you’re in an area where 1 inch of snow is considered a storm, this rule holds doubly true. For cold-climate drivers, allow extra stopping distance between yourself and the next guy, and never make any sudden movements. If 1 inch of snow is cause for a news story in your area, you might be safest staying off the roads entirely.

Black Ice

This ice is clear water frozen on dark pavement, making it difficult and almost impossible to observe from your vehicle. If you can’t see it, what can you do about it? Fortunately, you can anticipate its presence. Black ice is most commonly found on bridges, below overpasses, and on roads surrounded on both sides by trees.

Sharp Corners

Sharp curves are doubly dangerous during the colder months. Why? Trying to turn on snow, and with the possibility that snow is covering some slippery ice, corners become much more difficult to navigate. If you have to slow down to 5 mph to get around the corner safely, then do it.

Reduced Visibility

In the most intense storms, sometimes you can only see a few feet in front of your car. The key to safe winter driving lies in reducing your speed, going near zero if that’s what it takes. That rule again applies for poor visibility when driving. Best of all, stay off the roads entirely if you don’t have a very good reason to leave home those days.

Low Temperatures

The lower temperatures winter brings cause machines to do all sorts of crazy things they don’t do during warmer months. Cars fail to start, stopping takes a longer distance, and the list goes on. The best thing you can do is to mentally prepare for the lower temperatures and all the challenges they bring. You can do this by creating a “Disaster Kit,” and making sure your vehicle has jumper cables and simple tools packed in the trunk.

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