8 Great Winter Driving Tips

8 Great Winter Driving Tips
From Joe Widmyer

1. Do you realize that your stopping distance at 30 MPH is almost half compared to the stopping distance at 40 MPH? So slow down...
2. Do you have ABS? You would be surprised at how many drivers do not know if their car has ABS (anti-lock brakes). If your car has ABS then forget the old advice to "pump the brakes" to stop on a slippery surface. With ABS, stomp on the brake and stay on the brake while continuing to steer. With ABS a computer pumps the brakes for you, about 25 times a second, which is the vibration you may feel when you press firmly on the brakes.
3. At 40 MPH you travel 60 feet per second. So in bad weather try to leave at least 5-6 seconds (which is 300 feet - 5X60) between you and the car in front. In good conditions allow 3 seconds following distance. Forget the old rule of thumb - one car length for every 10 MPH of speed would only give you 60 ft. following distance at 40 MPH.
4. Did you know that tires are rated for heat, weather, and traction? Tires with a traction rating of "A" provide the best traction. If you believe you will be in the need of new tires soon, why not buy them now rather than in March? Also, it is a myth that lowering tire air pressure provides better traction.
5. Your car uses very little gas while idling. So don't be a miser. If your car windows are iced, try your scraper, but better yet, warm up the car for several minutes to thaw and totally clear the windows? If at 40 MPH you are 1/2 second slower to identify a hazard due to the ice covered windows, you traveled 30 feet closer to the hazard before you respond. That extra 30 feet could mean the difference of being in the ER or home eating dinner.
6. $6 could save your life. That is the cost of a gallon of window washer, an ice scraper, and new wiper blades.
7. When you drive, that's your job and it demands your full attention particularly in bad weather. Drivers not paying attention to the path of travel cause most car accidents. So, no cell calls, eating lunch, or applying make-up when driving in good or bad weather.
8. This may be the first winter of driving for many new drivers who have no experience driving in bad weather. Just as pilots are trained to fly in bad weather so should new drivers. Drive and practice with them on snowy roads before they solo in winter. Just because a driver has a license, it doesn't mean they are experienced to handle the different challenges posed by bad weather driving.

Mr. Widmyer has a BA degree from Towson University where he studied driver safety education. He has 25 years of statewide experience training instructors and students. Visit them online at www.widmyer.com