The Most Important Tip for Driving Safely in the Snow

This Just In 5

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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mande... manderspanders

Yea, since I am in western Kansas in the middle of a winter storm that has dumped snow in amounts I haven't seen since I was kid:  If it isn't an emergency, DO NOT GO OUT. 

There isn't *anything* so important that it can't wait until things clear a bit.  And I don't even want to hear about people going to work - we all need the paycheck, but you can't pay your bills if your dead or disabled. No job is worth your life.j

I've spun out on icy streets before...  I think the whole anxiety thing is something you *let* yourself feel.  I'd be lying if I said I don't get a bit nervous, but when I spun out (and this was in 1999 in a rear wheel drive Cougar) I made a conscious decision to make it a learning experience and be better prepared to navigate in winter conditions.  If I start fishtailing, I don't panic - I calmly correct it.  I take my 4x4 SUV for extra traction on snow (and it's heavier on ice than my car), I drive slow, accelerate slow, and give plenty of time for braking. 

It unnerves me to no end the idiots who think they can drive like "normal" in this stuff.

kjbug... kjbugsmom1517

Yep all of the above. Bein in nebraska we have had our share of snow. Go slow if you have to go out and if you dont have to dont go out. I dont like driving in it because of all the other idiots who think they r awesome snow drivers. Its not so much the snow. Just the other people.

Silve... Silvernail

One thing my mom drilled in me was when the roads are icy put your car in neutral before you hit the breaks at a stop sign, it will help slow your car down without having to used the breaks as much.

Shandi80 Shandi80

Take care of your tires! Make sure they are properly filled and if they need to be replaced, do it! Makes a huge difference when your car has new shoes in the snowy weather.

Mummy... MummyKitM

Do. Not. Use. Cat litter for traction!! It's made from clay and will turn into a slippery mess *very* quickly! How do I know this? I came within 4mm of a broken spine and spent 3 months in physical therapy to deal with the scar tissue in my back after slipping on some brick steps that had been "sanded" with litter. As the paramedics carried me away, strapped to a back board, one said, "Oh yeah, *NEVER* use cat litter for sanding. It doesn't work."

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