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Top Tips to Overcome Unfamiliar Slippery Driving Conditions This Winter

Top Tips to Overcome Unfamiliar Slippery Driving Conditions This Winter

With three quarters of the Unites States incurring wintery weather, if you’re traveling for the holidays, chances are good you’ll be driving through potentially treacherous conditions. Whether you are unfamiliar with slippery driving strategies or just need a refresher, it’s a good idea to educate yourself before shuttling off, gifts in tow. 

Prepare for a safe journey with these tips and be ready for any incident that might arise from the cold weather conditions.

  • Keep an eye on the weather forecast. Not knowing what the weather holds is no excuse, with apps galore and notifications a click away. If bad weather is expected, plan to find an alternate route, a work-around or drive part of the way and hole up in a cozy hotel or AirBnB until the worst is over.
  • Do your research. Ease your stress by researching the cheapest car insurance rates available. You’ll want to be sure you are fully covered in case the unexpected happens. And in the winter, the chances of this increase!
  • Prepare a winter pack. When traveling, think of your car as your temporary home on wheels. If you break down, run into traffic or a blizzard, you will need access to some basics such as snack bags, water bottles, a flashlight, medications, blankets, warm clothing, phone power bank, etc.
  • Drive slowly. Remember, black ice is tricky. It’s easy to be fooled into thinking the roadway is clear, when ice has settled in. Give yourself plenty of room between other cars, drive slowly, and don’t apply the brakes unless you need to, as the black ice could careen you in another direction. Keep the steering wheel straight and do your best to coast slowly over icy pavement.
  • Press on the gas and the brake slowly. Give yourself plenty of time to stop for a light or stop sign. Attempting to speed up or slow down quickly won’t help with traction.
  • Allow extra time. If you’re traveling for the holidays or simply hopping from one holiday party to the next, give yourself plenty of time to get there. If you’re running late, you’re more likely to speed and try to make up for lost time, and in bad weather conditions, this can prove to be a costly mistake.
  • Keep headlights on. Regardless of whether it’s daytime or night, keeping your headlights on will ensure that other drivers can see you and your vehicle. Bad weather can create low visibility conditions, so keeping lights on during sleet, rain, and snow events will improve your chances of arriving at your destination in one piece.
  • Avoid cruise control. There’s nothing like the open road in the summertime. Cruise control is every road tripper’s best friend, but not during the winter. If your car skids or hydroplanes while in cruise control, the car will rapidly spin the wheels and accelerate, causing you, very quickly, to lose control.


  • Drive properly around snowplows. Stay behind snowplows by at least five car lengths, be aware that snowplows exit or turn frequently and don’t drive through ‘snow fog’ created by the snow plows. Be aware of the plow’s position when on a multi-lane roadway and be patient. Remember, snowplows are there for you and your safety.
  • Defrost the windows. Before setting out for your drive, clear the car’s windows and lights of snow. Also be sure to defrost the front and back windshields as the frost can severely limit your visibility.
  • Taking control of your car. When your wheels lock up because of snowy or icy road conditions, it’s important to know what’s happening with your car and how to react. 
  • If the rear wheels lock, remove your foot from the accelerator and turn the steering wheel into the direction you want your front wheels to go. Apply consistent pressure to anti-lock brakes or, if you have standard brakes, gently pump them with your foot.    

–    If the front wheels lock, let the steering wheel turn on its own and lift your foot       from the accelerator. Shift the car into neutral, then (slowly) steer the vehicle as it slows.

Always allow your vehicle to slow down before you try and regain control.

  • Use a lower gear. Maintain a level of control over your car by operating it in a lower gear over icy or snowy roads. The vehicle won’t accelerate as quickly if driven in a lower gear.

The holidays are a special time for friends and loved ones. Familiarizing yourself with the proper tips on driving in bad weather conditions will help you and your family arrive safely.

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Karen LeBlanc

Karen LeBlanc is a travel host and writer with a popular travel show, The Design Tourist, and a companion lifestyle blog. As a widely published travel journalist and content creator, Karen is a member of the North American Travel Journalists Association. She also serves as the Design and Travel editor of the national lifestyle magazine, LaPalme. Karen believes that every destination has a story to tell through its local art, architecture, culture, and craft. This immersive creative exploration begins with authentic accommodations where the narrative of place unfolds through art, accessories, accouterments, furnishings, fixtures, and food. 

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