Advice for winter driving conditions

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Unexpected car incidents are never fun, but in the negative degree weather, the uncomfort and fear that comes from knowing you are in serious trouble snow-balls. Especially inexperienced drivers may find themselves in some hard-to-deal-with situations this winter, and it is important they take the right steps in avoiding and handling these.

Some of the ways to avoid undesired conflicts are easy. Make sure your car has at least a quarter tank of gasoline at all times. Also, in conditions of low visibility such as snow, sleet or fog, make sure your lights are on so that other cars on the road see you in plenty of time. When conditions are not optimal, try driving slower than you usually would. Even if you are confident in your snow tires, sometimes certain stops are more slippery expected. Give yourself plenty of time to slow down so you aren’t slamming on the breaks at the last second. Your brake lights alert other drivers of your plans and give them time to react as well. In fact, all clues, such as a turning signal should be made earlier than normal. Allow plenty of time to get places because traffic will be moving slower than usual. Even if you are running late, obey the laws of the road and stay alert. Your life is not worth the risk.

Even the most careful drivers slip onto some icy situations. For example, by taking a sharp turn on an icy road, Editor Maya Amjadi landed herself in a snow bank last winter. Fortunately, her neighborhood is filled with neighborly souls who came running with shovels. After standing outside kicking snow out from under her tires she was very thankful for one thing: mittens. Always drive with mittens in your car. They will keep your fingers from the evil cold of the steering wheel and fight off frostbite if you do have to leave your vehicle. However, one thing she didn’t have with her was a shovel. Given the situation, it would have been helpful and less embarrassing.

Getting rear-ended is also often more common on the snow and ice covered roads. Since most drivers don’t expect a collision, they aren’t prepared to handle the situation effectively. Editor Lindsey Davis was rear-ended two winters ago and didn’t know what to do. If this happens, it is important to find a safe place to pull off the road and brave the biting cold to speak with the other driver. Then, call the police! Too many teenagers don’t call the cops because they feel uncomfortable doing so. Don’t let that scarred voice inside your head persuade you. You are entitled to a fair police report so that the damage will be covered.

Ultimately, dress warmly, stay calm and drive smart. You can never be too defensive as a driver, especially when extreme weather makes simple driving tasks difficult.

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