Snow, ice and sleet can make the best drivers nervous. The Federal Highway Safety Administration, also known as FHSA, estimates that 17 percent of weather-related crashes occur during snow or sleet, 13 percent happen on icy pavement and 14 percent take place on snowy or slushy pavement.
While statistics prove that wintry conditions present dangerous situations, drivers can help minimize risks to themselves and others through better awareness and driving.
The most common and potentially most dangerous mistake is driving too quickly. Since the posted speed limit is set for dry pavement, drivers should adjust their speed according to the road’s condition, traffic and visibility. Traction comes from friction generated between your vehicle’s tires and the road itself. Any moisture that is layered in the middle will decrease the control you have over your vehicle. So, if noticeable precipitation is seen, it’s best to slow down to a comfortable speed.
Many drivers make the mistake of following too closely to the vehicle in front in poor weather conditions. Chances are if the driver in front makes an error, you will too. Similar to driving too quickly, icy conditions will increase the need to be more cautious. Consider putting eight to ten seconds of distance between you and the vehicle in front. Adequate length is most important in being able to stop in time.
When drivers feel their tires starting to lose grip, the first reaction is usually to slam on the brakes. Making any abrupt movements, whether slamming the brakes, sudden acceleration or quick steering, can cause a driver to lose control of their vehicle. Instead, consider slower and smaller movements. By slowly applying the brake and steering smoothly will help keep your tires’ grip and maintain the traction needed to stop or turn.
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