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Winter driving safety tips for snow and sleet

Winter snow can certainly be beautiful – but most drivers would rather be inside than on the roads in the midst of a storm. 

Ice, snow and sleet can turn a routine commute into a treacherous journey for even the most confident drivers. However, you can take some practical steps to reduce the chances that you’ll end up in a winter wreck. When the weather is bad:

1. Minimize your time on bad roads.

Keep your eye on the weather reports so that you can plan shopping trips and other essential errands around the sleet and snow, whenever possible. If you’re at work when the white stuff starts coming down and you have the capacity to work from home, see if you can leave early. The more you minimize your time on the road in poor weather, the safer you’ll be.

2. Slow down as much as you can.

The slower you go, the more traction you can get on bad roads. If you want to avoid skidding, drop your speed – but do so carefully. When you have to decelerate to stop at a traffic sign, start well in advance of where you’d normally apply the brakes in dry weather. When you accelerate again, do so slowly and carefully to avoid spinning out.

3. Learn how to handle your brakes.

There’s an art to using your brakes in icy weather. Plant the heel of your foot on the floor of your vehicle and use the ball of your foot on the pedal to maintain firm, even pressure. In general, you want to avoid using your brakes as much as possible on icy roads. 

4. Know how to respond to a spin.

One of the chief dangers of driving on snow and ice is that you’ll lose control of your vehicle and spin out. If you feel your car start to “fishtail,” don’t panic. Instead, take your hands off the wheel and your feet off the pedals so that the car will come to stop. (Trying to steer your vehicle or brake will usually only accelerate the problem.)

Despite your best efforts, you may still end up in a wreck this winter. If another driver is at fault, you have every right to ask for fair compensation for your losses.