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Top 7 Defensive Driving Maneuvers for Winter Conditions

“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” is a popular cliché that rings true for winter driving. When it comes to reducing accidents and fatalities, prevention is always the best strategy when discussing winter driving. Here are some tips you can follow to ensure your holiday season is a safe and happy one:

1. Always drive below the speed limit. Hey lead foot, remember those signs with the numbers on them? The posted speed limit, unfortunately, does not hold true for all seasons of the year. The best rule to keep in mind is to drive 10 mph below the posted speed limit when snow is accumulating on the ground. Depending on conditions, you may have to drive much slower than that.
2. Turn only after stopping. When weather conditions are hazardous, make sure to come to a complete stop before turning. If you round the corner off like you do during the summer months, you run the risk of careening out of control into an oncoming vehicle or the snow bank.

3. Allow extra distance between yourself other drivers. The DOT usually tells you to allow 1 car length between your car and the next one for every 10 miles of speed as a rule during safe driving conditions. If it’s slippery out, allow at least double that distance. You never know how long it could take to stop in winter conditions.

4. Always avoid abrupt steering. Sometimes, this isn’t possible because you have to react to what’s in front of you. If you can, however, avoid sudden steering movements. On slippery roads, a quick jerk of the wheel leads to an accident for you, and it could include other drivers.

5. Merge slowly and carefully. If you simply have to get in a different lane, do so with caution. Not only do sudden movements result in accidents, but small ridges of snow pile up in between lanes. When you hit one going at a normal speed, your vehicle experiences a small jerk. If you suddenly hit that ridge, you could get surprised and overcorrect in the steering wheel, causing an accident. Always merge with care.

6. Look farther ahead than you usually do. Since you’ve learned that sudden movements cause so many accidents, prepare yourself for changing traffic conditions by looking further down the road than normal. That way, you will catch traffic changes much earlier, giving you an extra second or two to safely react and avoid making a slippery situation worse.

7. Accelerate slowly. If you attempt to accelerate quickly, your wheels will spin, and you could lose control of your vehicle. Best to be on the safe side and accelerate with care.