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2016 Cold Weather Driving Tips

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Editor's Note: This story ran in January 2014; it has been updated.

For about half the year we have to drive in snowy, icy weather. But every year it seems like we have to relearn how to do it I think it really comes down to an intense desire to never have to drive in such a mess again, so we suppress the memories. Whatever the reason, tips about driving in icy conditions are always handy.

Slow down. The biggest issue with driving in snow is that the speed at which you can lose control of your vehicle is much lower than in nice conditions. Stopping takes more time, accelerating takes more time everything takes more time. So whether you're pulling out into traffic or following another vehicle, make sure you have plenty of room for the maneuver.

Never use cruise control. You shouldn't use it in rain either. When you lose traction, the cruise control speeds up to compensate so when you get traction back, you can spin out almost immediately.

Good tires, studs or chains can be helpful, but are not foolproof. Four wheel drive is mostly helpful in maintaining a grip when pulling out of a driveway or going up a hill but it won't help you stop.

Remember, not everyone has a giant car. I used to be one of those people a small car person. I have nothing but empathy for those poor folks who can't see over the top of the snowbank. So if you're waiting for someone to take a right turn on red and they just sit on it, don't give them any grief. They probably can't see. And I for one would rather wait a couple minutes than risk getting T-boned by a plow.

Give yourself extra time not just for the sloppy driving conditions, but also to clean off your car. There have been mornings when I've spaced on how long it will take me to clean the snow off my car.

And while we're on the subject of cleaning off cars: do a good job. If you can't see out your windows, that's bad. If you can't use your mirrors, that's bad. And if you have a three-foot-tall cake of snow and ice on your roof, that can be detrimental to you and your fellow travelers. If you come to a sudden stop, the snow can fall over your windshield and depending on how much or how heavy, you might not be able to use your wiper to remove it. Obviously, driving blind is considered incredibly bad especially if you're still moving. Another scenario is sending chunks of ice into another driver's windscreen and breaking it. You can imagine that this would ruin your day. Perhaps several people's days.

Clear off your headlights, signals and brake lights. This makes you more visible and will allow other drivers to know what you're up to.

Be cautious. You can be the most careful driver in the world, but not everyone is. The more space you have, the more time you have to maneuver or stop. Keep calm. And drive like a pro in the snow.

Last modified on Tuesday, 05 January 2016 19:29

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