Driving a car can be tricky enough with perfect conditions; driving in snow, ice, and rain requires even more attention as well as making sure that you know what to do if things go wrong. The safest thing to do would be to stay off the roads until you know they have been cleared. If you absolutely must drive in these conditions there are several things you can do to help make the trip a little safer.
Before you leave your house you should make sure that your car is ready and safe. This means that you need to make sure that you have a full or almost full gas tank. This will keep your gas line from freezing as well as insuring you have heat if you slide off the road. You also need to check your antifreeze. Most cars use a 50/50 mix, which is half antifreeze and half water. In order to avoid having to worry about this problem, it is a good idea to have what is called a flush and fill before winter hits. Be sure to check your wipe blades and fluid to make sure they will work properly when you need them.
The number one thing to do when driving in bad weather is to slow down. Not only should you keep your car speed down, but you need to remind yourself to slow down as well. Hitting that first patch of ice is scary, but you cannot panic! If the car is sliding on the front wheels completely let off of the gas pedal and let the car steer itself until you have traction again, then turn the wheel in the direction you should be going.
If your back tires are sliding take your foot off the gas pedal and turn your steering wheel in the same direction that your back wheels are going. You may have to do this a few times, but when you have your car under control pump your brakes. Most new cars have ABS, or antilock brakes. If you are driving a car with this system, push down your brake pedal firmly and evenly. This will cause your pedal to push back against your foot, but keep pressing the pedal with the same pressure, that pushing back means that your brakes are working to help you stop.
Knowing what to do in these situations is important, but there are also safety features built into new vehicles that can help you keep your car under control.
- Anti-lock brakes (ABS) keeps the wheels from locking up, which gives better control.
- Electronic Brake Force Distribution is part of some ABS systems. This helps make sure the front and back tires share braking evenly.
- Brake Assist is also a part of some ABS systems. This feature can shorten stopping time by making your brakes work to their full potential.
- Traction Control helps keep tires from spinning on slippery roads.
- Vehicle Stability Control helps a driver to have better control of their vehicle.
These features are not going to save you if you decide to drive unsafely in wet conditions, but they will help your trip be safer if you are driving for the conditions.
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