How to Tackle Slick Roads as Colder Weather Moves In
As driving conditions become less favorable, your auto insurance coverage becomes more important than ever, but there are few things more important than simple preparation. Whether you’re facing snowy roads for the first time this year or you’re driving through your hundredth storm, knowing how to handle a vehicle on slick roads is one of the most important skills a driver can have, and there’s no better time to review than right now.
Your driving technique on slick roads is extremely important, but before we get into that, it’s important to keep basic, routine maintenance in mind. Checking your car’s oil, belts, and coolant levels should be a part of your regular routine, and if driving conditions are worsening, a quick check could save your life. Tires, wiper blades, and windshield washer fluid should all be double-checked, as well as your car’s battery. These items should all be checked regularly, even if driving conditions are optimal.
It’s also a great idea to keep an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times, and if you’re in an area with snow or ice, there are a few items you can add to make the kit more seasonally appropriate. Essentials include a charged, functioning cell phone, non-perishable food and drinks, blankets, first aid supplies, and a tire patch kit (in addition to the spare tire you should already have in your vehicle).
If you live in an area where snow and sleet are a possibility, bring an extra set of warm clothing (including boots and plenty of layers). If you’re traveling, it might be a good idea to bring a few things in case you’re isolated from civilization. Items include water purifying tablets, a small fishing kit, a tarp, a compass, and a map of your state and any adjacent states that you may travel through.
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Now that you’re prepared for the worst, it’s time to make the most of a bad driving condition. Roads slick with rain, sleet, or snow can be characterized with one word: “unpredictable”. As such, the safest way to drive on slick roads is by giving yourself as much additional reaction time and control as possible. The easiest way to accomplish this is by slowing down and avoiding the cruise control. It might be convenient, but you’ll want constant control over your acceleration in inclement weather.
You’ll also want to favor 4WD vehicles over those with FWD, with RWD vehicles acting as a last resort. These allow you to maintain control over your vehicle, but avoiding sudden actions like braking and turning is still half of the battle. If you have to drive a RWD vehicle, take the opportunity to weigh down the back end to give yourself additional traction. Accelerate and brake gradually, avoid parking on slopes, and give yourself a little bit of extra room in traffic – an unexpected patch of ice may increase your stopping distance.
Most importantly, if the rear of your vehicle starts sliding, steer in the same direction as the slide to even things out and regain control. If your front end begins to drift, the best thing to do is slow down and continue driving in your intended direction.