Winter driving can be disastrous, especially here in New England. We are only halfway though December and stormy winter weather has already affected most of the country. The most recent storm to plow through the nation caused several motor vehicle accidents, including a 60 car pile-up on Interstate 290 in Worcester.

The best way to avoid a hazardous situation in severe winter weather is to stay off the road. However, if that is not an option, the following winter driving safety tips will be useful:

  • Place the tires with the mot tread on the rear of your car. This may prevent the car from spinning out of control if you lose traction.
  • Check the air tire pressure regularly. When the temperature drops, so does the pressure in the tires. Keep a gauge in your car so that you can check the pressure on a regular basis.
  • Be sure to clear all the snow off your car. Your windshield should be completely clear as well as the rear window, side mirrors, roof, and headlights. This will give you the best visibility and prevent snow from blowing onto the windshield of the driver behind you.
  • Turning on your headlights not only provides better visibility for you, it allows oncoming drivers to see you approaching.
  • Don’t slam on the brakes. Slamming on the brakes can make you lose control of the car very quickly. If you hit a slick patch of ice or snow, keep calm and keep your hands steady on the wheel.
  • Avoid tailgating. It’s easy to get irritated and aggressive in bad weather, but if the person in front of you slams on his brakes and you hit him, you will be a fault. Give yourself some space and take your time.
  • Don’t speed. Wherever you are headed can wait just those few extra minutes. It is better that you arrive safe and a little late than not arrive at all.
  • Riding in the tracks of the car in front of you can provide better traction, unless the tracks have turned to ice. If that is the case, then driving in fresh snow will provide better traction.
  • Don’t turn and stop at the same time to avoid sliding. You can do one or the other but not both. If you need to turn, ease off the brake and make a slow, gradual turn.
  • If you find your car getting stuck in the snow try turning off the traction control system. In some cases, allowing the tires to spin can help to dig through the snow and make contact with the asphalt.
  • Keep an emergency kit in your vehicle that includes: a flashlight, flares, first aid kit, reflective warning triangles, drinking water, non-perishable snacks, rain poncho, gloves, jumper cables, extra windshield wiper fluid, and a warm blanket.
  • If you live in an area where snow is a normal occurrence, keep an ice scraper and even a shovel available in your vehicle.
  • Cat litter is a great replacement for sand when you need extra traction under your tires.
  • Before you get on the road, make sure your windshield washer fluid tank is topped off and keep extra in your vehicle.

Stay safe this holiday season and keep these winter driving safety tips in mind. Your friends and family will be grateful you arrived safe and sound.