Safety Tips for Driving in Bad Weather Conditions

windshield in winter with snow on itNorth Carolina roads are treacherous places to drive when the snow starts to fall, as we have just seen recently. Snow plow equipment is limited, since it is not needed often enough to justify having many plow trucks on hand. Minor roads and rural areas tend to stay covered in snow and ice until the thaw comes. In addition to that, the climate in this region is conducive to icy road conditions, which is considerably more hazardous than snow.

While it is always better not to drive in bad weather, we realize that there are times when it cannot be avoided. If the snow is falling, and you need to drive—either due to the requirements of your job or because of an emergency—keep these tips in mind.

Stay alert and focused.

During poor weather conditions, it is more important than ever to avoid distractions and keep your eyes and your mind on the road.

Increase your following distance.

You cannot stop a car nearly as quickly on a slippery road as you can on a dry road, so an important habit to form is to reduce your speed and leave plenty of room between your car and the car in front of you. If you do need to slow or stop your vehicle, be mindful of the type of braking system in your car. Most newer vehicles are now equipped with anti-lock braking systems (ABS). If your car has this type of brake, it is important not to “pump the brakes” as is the case with older brake systems.

Avoid sudden moves.

If you see an obstacle in the road, do not panic. Sudden moves, such as sharply swerving a vehicle or slamming on the brakes, are more likely to cause an accident than avoid one. If your vehicle begins to skid, for instance, your instincts may tell you to steer hard in the opposite direction of the skid. This can cause a “counter skid,” which will greatly increase the likelihood of a collision.

Make sure to stock plenty windshield washer fluid.

This time of year, precipitation can obscure visibility. Make sure that your washer fluid is completely full—and carry an extra bottle with you. If you have not used it in a while, it is a good idea to test the windshield washer while you are parked. If the lines are clogged or obstructed (as they sometimes can be after a long period without use), make sure to correct the issue. Running out of washer fluid can cause your windshield to become caked with dirt to the point where you cannot see the road.

We hope that you will avoid driving if possible this winter, and that if you do have to drive, you will exercise extreme caution. Stay safe, and be sure to bring your vehicle in for regular maintenance at one of our three convenient Triangle locations.