Much the country will be faced with cold, snow, sleet and ice this winter. If you live in one of these regions you can stay a bit safer by following some of these winter driving tips.

  • Check into tires more suited for the winter weather. If you have “All-Season” tires they can be upgraded to more aggressive “All-Weather” tires or even “Snow Tires” that give even better traction.
  • Beyond clearing your windshield and rear window of snow, take the time to clear off your hood and roof. Snow on other parts of your vehicle will blow back onto your windows if not cleared before moving.
  • Pack a snow emergency kit in your vehicle. Include items like a blanket, candles, sand for traction and perhaps a small shovel in case you get stuck.
  • Keep your windshield fluid filled and make sure you use fluid that contains anti-freeze to insure its availability in cold weather.
  • Allow more time to get to your destinations in the winter, especially in inclement weather.
  • Don’t use cruise control in slippery conditions.
  • Use your brake gently.
  • Leave more room than normal between you and the vehicle in front of you in snowy or icy conditions.
  • Remember, today’s ABS brakes will “pump” your brakes for you. Apply steady pressure when braking. There is no need to pump them.

If you do get stuck in the snow, keep the following in mind:

  • Don’t spin your tires as it will only get you stuck deeper.
  • You can try turning your wheels all the way to the right, and then all the way to the left to help clear snow away from your front tire.
  • Make sure your tires are pointed straight ahead to minimize resistance as you try to move forward.
  • Use gentle pressure on your gas pedal to see if you can slowly move your way out.
  • If you still can’t move, try removing snow from in front of all four tires. If you have sand, gravel or salt available, that can add traction.
  • You can rock your car by moving it into drive, and then reverse and then back again, lightly pressing on the accelerator. You may be able to rock your way out.

Winter is also a good time to have your battery and alternator tested and your radiator anti-freeze checked. Make sure you have a snow brush and ice scraper and always dress for winter weather just in case you have a problem along the road.

You can find similar driving tips by taking an online defensive driving course or online traffic school program.  These types of courses will not only make you be a safer driver but in many cases, may get you an auto insurance discount or even a ticket dismissed from your record to avoid an increase on your insurance.  Check with your insurance company to ask if they offer a discount to insureds that complete a defensive driving course.  If so, you can do your part to keep you and your family safer while saving some money—not bad!