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10 Tips for Winter Driving In Snow and Ice

snow-covered road in the winter

What to Do When Driving in the Ice Or Snow

snow-covered road in the winterWe all know it snows pretty heavily in South Dakota. While you probably are used to driving in snow, it doesn’t hurt to refamiliarize yourself with safety tips after enjoying a few months of sunshine. Here are 10 tips for driving through snow and ice.

#1: Avoid the Roads

It is a cliche, but the best way to be safe is to not go out on the roads, especially if you aren’t comfortable doing so. Whenever you get behind the wheel of a car, you are accepting the responsibility to drive in a way that reasonably avoids harm. If you don’t feel comfortable accepting that responsibility, then stay home!

#2: Slow is The Way to Go

Studies published by the Society of Automotive Engineers (SAE), have shown that traction and braking power decrease significantly when traveling over ice or snow. Driving slowly helps to mitigate this risk by not asking as much from your brakes. Additionally, braking suddenly can cause your tires to slip and lose traction, so it’s best to brake much more gradually than you normally would.

#3: Inertia is Your Friend

Icy roads make it much more difficult for your tires to grip the roads and move you forward. This is especially true for a stopped position on a hill. Try your best to avoid stopping on slopes and use inertia to get you over those difficult spots.

#4: Know When You Need Chains

It doesn’t hurt to be prepared. Have chains in your trunk in case you need them. You likely won’t need them at all if you live in the city because the roads will be plowed and salted, but depending on where you go throughout the state it may be necessary. Don’t be caught unprepared!

#5: All-Wheel Drive Isn’t the Answer

All-wheel drive vehicles are great, but they don’t really help that much when traveling on ice and snow. You’re likely to have a bit more traction, but they’ll do nothing to help you stop. Not being able to stop quickly enough is the biggest cause of accidents in icy weather, so you’ll still need to drive much slower even if you have an all-wheel drive.

#6: Don't Use Cruise Control

You should never use cruise control when driving on damp surfaces, this includes rain, snow and ice. Cruise control makes it difficult to maintain a constant speed in poor weather conditions. If you encounter a puddle or ice your car may hydroplane because of the reduced traction between your tires and the road.

#7: Keep An Eye On Your Tires

Always check to make sure that your tires are properly inflated and that the tread is not worn down. This helps ensure that you have maximum traction while driving in the winter months. You also may want to consider investing in snow tires- tires designed specifically with snow and ice in mind. These tires can help improve the traction your vehicle has on the road. (Just remember to swap them out in the summer!)

#8: Always Check the Weather Before a Big Trip

If you're planning an extended trip, you should always check the weather before heading out. If it looks like you may be in for a storm or a lot of snow, you should consider rescheduling your trip.

#9: Make Sure Someone Always Knows Where You Are

If you are driving in poor weather, be sure to notify a friend or family member before leaving, that way they know where to look for you if you run into any trouble. You should provide them with your intended route, your estimated arrival time, and your contact information.

#10: Keep An Emergency Kit In Your Car

In spite of taking all of the above precautions, you may still find yourself off the road or stuck in the snow for an extended period of time. One of the best ways to be prepared is to keep an emergency kit in your car that includes the following:

  • Blankets (thermal blankets keep you warm but take up minimal space in your car)
  • Food and water
  • A flashlight
  • A flare
  • A compact shovel (for digging your car out of the snow)
  • Non-clumping cat litter (for putting beneath the wheels of your car for added traction on snow or ice)
  • Warm clothing (you should always bring a hat, coat and gloves when traveling in winter months)

If you or a loved one is ever involved in a car crash, our lawyers at Whiting Hagg & Dorsey, LLP can help you receive the settlement you deserve. Give us a call at (605) 519-6136 or fill out an online contact form.