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Five Tips for Safely Driving in the Snow on Long Island

Posted at Fri, Dec 18, 2020 9:00 AM

Even if you are a veteran of Long Island winters, driving in the snow will always have hazards. Whether it is the unpredictability of other drivers, black ice, or limited visibility, winter – and everything that comes with it – poses a danger to drivers. Even if you feel you have a good grasp on how to drive once the snow falls, it is never a bad idea to go over some tips for driving safely on winter roads. To help you out in this regard, we here at Westbury Toyota have put together a quick list of tips for you to read through to ensure that this winter, you are able to drive as safely as possible.

Switch to Winter Tires

This is not so much a suggestion as it is a necessity. You have probably heard the ongoing debate about snow tires versus all-season, and the truth is that winter tires do provide your vehicle with far more traction and stability on ice and in snow and slush than all season tires do. It is one of the best steps you can take in order to make certain that your commutes are as safe as possible this winter season, so if you have not gotten them yet, be sure to do so as quickly as possible.

Drive Gently and Carefully

Always try to drive as smoothly as possible when the roads are covered in snow or slush. This means that you need to go easy while steering, accelerating, and braking. The reason for this is that any jerky movement with any of these controls can lead to an abrupt loss of traction, which can then snowball into something even worse. Drive as though you are carrying something fragile or spillable in your lap in order to prevent loss of control.

Keep Your Eyes Focused Far Ahead

There is a correlation between how bad the road conditions are and how far down the road you should be looking. If the highway is covered in ice and snow, you need to keep your eyes focused far ahead in order to give yourself ample time to anticipate anything bad. Always slow down for turns, and double or triple your stopping distance.

Be Wary of All-Wheel Drive

While the all-wheel drive (AWD) system in vehicles is intended to give you better traction at certain times, it can also lead drivers to having a false sense of security on icy roads. Because AWD systems send power to all four wheels rather than two, it can make you feel like you are incapable of slipping, but that’s not the case. AWD does not actually improve your ability to stop or turn in bad driving conditions, which means that if you are a bit heavy on the brake, accelerator, or steering wheel, you can still lose control.

Deal With Skids Correctly

Skidding is something that happens to everyone when driving in the winter, and if not handled correctly it can lead to being ditched or to an accident with another vehicle. It is easy to panic when you feel your car start to skid, but it is imperative that you react appropriately in order to mitigate the chances of something bad happening.

Once you feel your vehicle entering a skid, always look in the direction you want to go rather than the direction the skid is taking the car, explains Gary Witzenburg of Car and Driver. This is actually what race car drivers do because you will almost certainly end up in the direction you are looking.

The next step to handling a skid correctly might seem counterintuitive, but is essential: Do NOT slam on the brakes. If it is a rear-wheel skid (the rear tires losing traction), quickly turn the steering wheel in the same direction that the back end of the car is sliding. Take your foot off the accelerator and do not touch the brakes. Once the wheels are able to get a grip again, you can resume steering in the direction you had originally been going in.

If you find yourself in a front-wheel skid (the front wheels lose traction and your car turns wider than expected), let off the accelerator completely. It should not take long for the front wheels to start gripping again and once they do, you can continue on in the direction you had been going in at first.

Stay Safe This Winter

Winter always makes driving tricky, so stay safe by utilizing the tips we listed above in order to make your driving excursions in the snow and ice as calm and uneventful as possible. If you drive carefully and react calmly to less than ideal road conditions, you should always be able to make it to your destinations without incident.

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