We all know that winter in Virginia is not all that intimidating. Temperatures tend to stay pretty mild for the most part, and winter storms only happen once or twice a season. Once or twice is enough to get plenty of motorists in trouble trying to drive in snowy and icy conditions. Part of the reason there are so many accidents is that Virginian drivers don’t have a lot of experience driving under these conditions. Be prepared for any snowy surprises this winter may throw at us. Our guide to driving in the snow will get you started.
If you have to go out in icy conditions, you should allow plenty of extra time to get to your destination. Drive slower than you normally would. It is difficult to stop quickly on a slippery surface, and you are likely to encounter obstacles in the road, especially right after a storm. Also accelerate and decelerate slowly. This is the best way to avoid skidding or getting stuck. Sudden stops and starts can have unexpected results.
Give Yourself Space
On a dry road with good visibility, you should leave a following distance of 3-4 seconds between you and the car in front of you. For icy conditions, double that. If you leave yourself plenty of room to stop, you greatly increase your chances of avoiding a collision if something happens on the road in front of you. There’s no need to drive bumper to bumper in bad weather, and it won’t really get you where you’re going any faster.
You’re a perfectly good and safe driver under normal circumstances. Driving in the snow shouldn’t be any different. Don’t psych yourself out by thinking that everything will be different in the snow. You’re still driving the same car on the same roads. They’re just a little slipperier. If you do find yourself sliding on the road, don’t panic. And don’t slam on the breaks. This causes your tires to lose traction on the road making it harder to slow down. Instead, take your foot off the accelerator and allow the car to slow down on its own.
The only surefire way to avoid a collision is to not go out at all. Even the best drivers can encounter something unexpected and end up in a crash. After all, you can’t account for other people’s reckless or distracted driving. If you don’t absolutely have to leave your home, don’t. Enjoy the winter wonderland from your window with a mug of coffee or hot chocolate instead.