Winter Driving Tips

  • Published
  • By Joseph Gangemi
  • 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

With the winter months here, weather can change at a moment’s notice in the Hampton Roads area, so drivers need to be aware of the possible hazardous conditions of roadways, bridges and tunnels.

According to the American Automobile Association, the most important thing to remember is to plan ahead and leave earlier than usual to safely reach destinations.

AAA recommends the following winter driving tips:

  • Avoid driving while you’re fatigued, getting the proper amount of rest before taking on winter weather tasks reduces driving risks.
  • Never run a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage.
  • Make certain your tires are properly inflated.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half-full.
  • If possible, avoid using your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface, such as puddles, ice or sand.
  • Always look and steer where you want to go.
  • Use a seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.

Simple maneuver’s such as accelerating, stopping and turning do not happen as quickly during hazardous road conditions as they do on dry pavement. Drivers need to give enough reaction time by driving slowly, having situational awareness and by being defensive drivers.

Tips for driving in the snow:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skidding. Take time to slow down for a stoplight, and remember it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal. It is normal for the pedal to vibrate when the ABS is activated.
  • Do not stop if you can avoid it. There is a big difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full-stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes, do so.
  • If you do not have to go out, do not do it.

It is extremely important to remember that you should not sit in a vehicle and run the engine to keep warm if stranded in winter conditions. This may cause asphyxiation from engine exhaust. By having these items readily available it could turn a bad situation into a manageable one and easily save your life.

Emergency Kit:

  • Flashlight
  • Mats that can be placed under your tires to increase traction
  • Small bag of sand, salt or kitty litter to spread around tires to increase traction
  • Shovel
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Blanket
  • Jumper cables
  • Window-washing solvent to keep the reservoir filled and windshields clean
  • Warning devices-flares or triangles
  •  Extra battery for your cellular phone

To receive real-time updates on local weather conditions download the JBLE app available in the Apple and Google play stores, or follow us on Twitter or Facebook.