Sunday, August 14, 2022

Five things you need to know: How to drive in winter weather

Virginia State Police reported 43 traffic crashes in the Chesapeake Division this weekend due to inclement weather. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Unsplash)
Virginia State Police reported 43 traffic crashes in the Chesapeake Division this weekend due to inclement weather. (WYDaily/Courtesy of Unsplash)

This weekend’s winter storm brought the Hampton Roads area a light dusting of snow and freezing temperatures, creating hazardous road conditions for drivers.

The Virginia State Police reported 35 disabled vehicles and 43 traffic crashes in the Chesapeake division as of 2 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 21, according to Corinne Geller, spokesperson for the VSP.

Though it was only a light acculturation of snow here, perhaps a refresher on how to drive in the inclement conditions isn’t such a bad idea.

Here are five tips from AAA Tidewater Virginia on how to safely navigate the wintery roads.

  1. See and be seen. Clear snow and frost from all windows and outside mirrors completely. Turn headlights to low beams, even in daylight, and search for hazards farther down the road.
  2. Drive in cleared lanes. Changing lanes unnecessarily puts you at greater risk of hitting a patch of ice between lanes that may cause you to lose control of the vehicle.
  3. Apply Steady Braking. In vehicles with anti-lock brake systems, keep pressing the pedal firmly and steadily. The anti-lock system should handle the rest. Do not pump the brakes. Pumping anti-lock brakes will remove any benefits they provide.
  4. Make smooth moves. Slow down, leave plenty of following distance behind the next vehicle — at least six to eight seconds on slippery roads, and leave an “out” to one side. Accelerate, brake and steer slowly and smoothly. Jerky motions increase the risk of skids.
  5. Recovering from a skid without panicking. If you start to skid, stay off the brakes and accelerator. Do not shift gears. Simply look and steer in the direction you want the car to go. When the skid is over you’ll be better able to move the car to a safe spot and calm down before resuming your trip. “Never accelerate during a spin. It will only make matters worse,” AAA states.

And in case you find yourself stuck on the side of the road during freezing weather, it’s always a good idea to have a winter weather driving kit at the ready.

The kit should include a blanket, ice scraper, flares or reflective triangles, flash light (with extra batteries), jumper cables, bag of abrasive material such as cat litter, shovel, cloth or paper towels, first aid kit, bottle of water and cell phone with a full charge.

As always, remember to buckle up and be careful going over bridges and overpasses during freezing weather.

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