The Most Important Tip for Driving Safely in the Snow

Driving in the snowI have a confession: I am terrified of driving in the snow. OK, that's an understatement. After witnessing a car spin out in front of me and losing control of my vehicle a few years ago, I get severe anxiety and literally lose control of my emotions. For me, it feels like no matter how careful I am, I just don't have control of my surroundings and that freaks me out.

Lucky for me -- and all of you -- Virginia Pritchett, a representative for AAA, has amazing advice about staying safe in snowy conditions. Read on for her #1 most important tip for driving in the snow, as well as exactly what you should have in your emergency road kit.


Pritchett says that the most important piece of advice she can give to those who choose to drive in the snow is to slow down and leave more space. On an average day, the normal following distance is three to four seconds on dry pavement. "This should be increased to 8 to 10 seconds when driving on icy, slippery surfaces," says Pritchett. "This extra time will allow for extra braking distance should a sudden stop become necessary."

Pritchett also cautions drivers to drive distraction free always, but especially in the snow. Looking away from the road for even a second doubles your risk of being in a crash. "We recommend if you are with a passenger, enlist the passenger's help to carry out activities that would otherwise distract you from driving safely."

And as for that emergency kit? Well first things first, mentally prepare to drive in the snow. Then, load up your car with these must-haves:

  • Mobile phone, pre-programmed with rescue apps and important phone numbers including family and emergency services, and car charger
  • Drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Non-perishable snacks for both human and pet passengers
  • Bag of abrasive material (sand, salt, cat litter) or traction mats
  • Snow shovel
  • Blankets
  • Extra warm clothing (gloves, hats, scarves)
  • Flashlight with extra batteries
  • Window washer solvent
  • Ice scraper with brush
  • Cloth or roll of paper towels
  • Jumper cables
  • Warning devices (flares or triangles)
  • Basic toolkit (screwdrivers, pliers, adjustable wrench)

Do you have any of your own tips for driving in the snow? Do you have an emergency kit?


Image via Stig Nygaard/Flickr

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