When anxiety and panic set in, it’s generally because we are unprepared for a situation. Even though winter weather is unpredictable, you could say that it is predictably unpredictable. Which means it’s something you can do your best to brace for, and not be caught dangerously off guard. A variety of strategies are available to help take the fright and unpredictability out of winter driving.
Familiarize yourself with an appropriate weather game plan so you and your family can stay safe and secure. Let’s look at how we can best position ourselves for winter driving readiness.
- Hydroplaning: Rainy and sleety weather can create hydroplaning conditions on roadways, and it can happen even after a quick passing shower or as rain begins to freeze. The most dangerous issue with hydroplaning is loss of vehicle control. The driver feels helpless and panicked. It can be a horrifying event for experienced and inexperienced drivers alike. If you find yourself in this situation, take your foot off the accelerator immediately. Do not use your brakes. Applying pressure to brakes can cause you to careen out of control. Turn your car gently in the direction of the hydroplane and wait until the tires reconnect with the roadway – the driver will feel this happen.
- Insurance: Revisit your car insurance coverage. Chances are good there is an opportunity to save money and amend your coverage due to changes in your life. No matter your circumstances, affordable car insurance is possible – plus the additional coverage can make you feel more secure while driving during winter. Winter driving can be dangerous. With the proper car insurance, you will be better protected.
- Weather Apps: Apps abound in the Play Store that will keep you updated and aware of any impending bad weather. Turn the notifications on and add your locations to stay as up to date as possible. The best weather applications include Weather Underground, Accuweather, The Weather Channel, RadarScope, and Flowx.
- Black Ice: Very much akin to hydroplaning, encountering black ice can create panic and overreaction in the driver. Fortunately, black ice isn’t usually much larger than a 20-foot patch. First, try and remain calm. A quick movement like sudden braking or jolting the steering wheel will induce greater loss of control. Don’t hit the brakes, and keep the steering wheel pointed straight (going in the same direction before you hit the black ice). Generally, do as little as possible in an attempt to glide over the ice without incident.
- Disabled Vehicle: If your car breaks down, there are steps to take to keep you safe and comfortable until help arrives.
- Put on the 4-way flashers and get your car to the side of the road
- When you get to the side of the road, put the car in park, employ the emergency brake, and point the steering wheel away from traffic (in case a car hits you from behind)
- Stay inside the car, especially if you’re on a busy highway
- Call for help – 911 or roadside assistance
- Don’t attempt a repair on your own
- If a stranger offers to help, stay in the car with the doors locked and ask them to use their phone to call for help, if you can’t do it yourself
- If you encounter a disabled vehicle on the road, call for help from a safe location
- Listen to the Radio: During bad weather or if you suspect traffic entanglements in your near future, tune in to a local AM or FM station that will give you weather and traffic reports.
- Fog: Fog usually forms at night or in the early morning hours when the day’s temperature is the coolest. Locations closer to sea level and below, like valleys, are more prone to fog development, and it can be one of the most dangerous weather conditions for drivers. Keep a safe distance between other drivers, and keep your headlights on low, regardless of the time of day. Drive closer to the right-hand side of the road as opposed to the center, to avoid accidentally drifting over the center line and into oncoming traffic.
Take some of the unpredictability out of winter driving by brushing up on the skills you need when encountering weather-related driving issues. The most important thing to remember, right off the bat, is not to panic. When you’re able to stay calm and maneuver slowly and efficiently, you should be able to pass through the event with ease.