As much of the country digs out from what was one of the worst snowstorms we’ve been hit with in quite a while (record-setting here in Michigan anyway, next to the blizzard of 1978), I was reminded today of some things that everyone should remember when driving in snowy or slippery conditions, so I thought I would share them here.
- Go slowly and carefully! No matter how much of a hurry you’re in, it takes just a second to slip on regular or black ice, which could cause you a much greater delay in getting to where you’re headed, if not worse consequences. Drive slowly enough that you can retain traction on most surfaces and leave plenty of stopping room between you and the next vehicle ahead – the further, the better.
- When you stop, press the brake slowly, not suddenly. Most cars nowadays have anti-lock brakes so you don’t need to pump them, just apply slow, even pressure until you’re at a complete stop.
- If you do slip, don’t panic. And don’t jam on the brake. Just turn your wheels in the direction you’re going until the car stops sliding and you can regain control.
- Keep an emergency kit handy in the car that you’re driving – along with regular year-round items, make sure to include blankets, snacks and water, extra gloves or mittens, socks and an extra sweater or sweatshirt for everyone in the family, flashlight (with extra batteries), shovel, and a bag of either sand or cat litter can be helpful to add traction when trying to dig out of the snow. And don’t forget your cell phone when you head out the door.
- My most important tip though is please, if the weather is bad out and driving conditions are poor – avoid driving at all if you can. Try to only leave the house if it’s urgent and combine errands into one trip to avoid having to drive any more than you absolutely have to.
We did have to leave the house today, for a very unanticipated, but major reason – my 5-year-old slipped and fell, gashing her head. I don’t think anything less could have gotten me to brave the roads, but we headed off to Urgent Care without a second thought. Six stitches (and a popsicle) later, we slowly drove back home, wondering why so many other people found it necessary to be out and about on the roads in such poor conditions. But obviously there are times when you can’t avoid it, so please remember when you are driving in the snow and ice – be careful and get out and home safely!
See more about safe driving in wintery conditions.