Driving in the winter is very different than in other times of the year. Adverse weather and longer periods of darkness makes driving more hazardous. Sometimes conditions can be extreme, as we have found out over recent winters, with prolonged periods of heavy snow and floods.
Winter brings many dangers for motorists, with one of the most threatening being slippery and hard-to-spot clear ice. Clear ice, sometimes called black ice, refers to a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface, especially on roads. The ice itself is not black, but virtually transparent, allowing the often black road below to be seen through it. The typically low levels of noticeable ice pellets, snow, or sleet surrounding black ice means that areas of the ice are often practically invisible to drivers or persons stepping on it. There is, thus, a risk of skidding and subsequent accident due to the unexpected loss of traction.
The following tips may help you cope better with the various winter weather hazards.
Driving in Snow
- Snow that is heavy and slushy can become packed together to create a slippery road surface. When encountering this kind of snow while driving, drive slowly and use extra caution.
- Be careful when accelerating. Cars often slip or skid when accelerating too quickly in snowy conditions. If you do begin to slip, take your foot off the gas pedal and then start accelerating again more slowly. Avoid braking, as this action may make skidding worse.
- Use your low beams when driving in snow and avoid the use of high beams. The bright light s would reflect off of the snow and reduce your visibility. Use low beams to see more of the road and make your car more visible to other drivers.
- Since snow decreases your visibility and reduces your stopping speed, it is important to maintain a safe distance behind other vehicles.
Driving on Icy Surfaces
Clear ice, which often forms on roads and is undetectable by sight, can be extremely dangerous. If you notice that the spray from other vehicles on a wet road begins to stop or wane, it may indicate the development of clear ice or black ice. When that happens, follow the instructions below. Also, remember that bridges and overpasses can be icy even when normal roads are not.
- Begin braking slowly and well before you need to stop. When a road is covered in ice, it may take up to ten times longer to come to a stop after braking.
- Make sure you have a good understanding of your vehicle’s brake system and the best way to use it. For example, anti-lock brakes should never be pumped.
Sunscreen and Sunglasses in Winter — Is Essential
While dealing with the winter conditions, UV exposure may not be top of mind. Protection is always necessary for both the skin and eyes when there is sun over snow. Because snow reflects almost 80 percent of UV radiation, your overall exposure is nearly doubled when skiing, snowboarding, shoveling or playing in the snow.
In the midst of the short, cold days of winter, many of us stash away our sunglasses until the spring and summer months. But winter can wreak havoc on unprotected eyes, sometimes even more so than in sunny summer months. So to keep your sight sharp and your eyes healthy, proper eyewear is essential—no matter what the season!
These days can be just as dangerous as bright, sunny days. Sunscreen during these times is recommended to decrease your UV exposure.