Lydia Neeley, contributing writer
Living in Cache Valley Utah, we know snowstorms can be very unpredictable. Add to that, a teenage driver who has not driven in the snow yet, and things can get a little interesting.
Logan Brown and Darren Perkes, two driver’s education teachers at Green Canyon High School shared their tips for driving in the winter. However, most of their tips can be applied to those who have driven for many years in the snow as well.
The first thing both experts said was: “Drive Slow.” If your visibility is compromised, then it isn’t always smart to drive at the speed limit. In fact, the Utah State Speeding Law states, “A person may not operate a vehicle at a speed greater than is reasonable and prudent under the existing conditions, giving regard to the actual and potential hazards then existing.” That means even if you are going below the speed limit, you can be pulled over and ticketed if the officer deems that you were going too fast for the existing winter conditions. If you can’t see in front of you, going the speed limit and hoping that there isn’t a car in front of you isn’t the safest way to drive.
Darren also suggested keeping both hands on the steering wheel and being attentive to cars around you. Practicing safe driving habits by checking your blind spots can help you avoid a crash. You may pay attention to other cars and the existing weather conditions, but other drivers might not. Giving more space between you and other cars isn’t a bad idea either. When you are driving in the middle of a snowstorm, the conditions are not the same as it would be on a sunny day in the summer, and if the car in front of you has to stop unexpectedly, make sure there is adequate distance between the two cars so you can stop as well.
So, what do you do if your car hits black ice? Or starts spinning out of control? These experts recommend keeping both hands on the steering wheel, but not turning the wheel at all. Take your foot off the brake, and don’t hit the gas. Let the car slide on the ice to firm ground, and then you can take back control of your car.
Don’t let fear of the weather and driving stop you from running your errands and doing the things you need to. Being cautious and being paranoid are two completely different things, and if you are worried (or are worried about taking your teenage driver out to practice), try driving in a snowstorm or bad weather in areas with few cars. This will decrease the possibility of a crash but still allow you time to practice and increase your confidence in your driving.
If you are headed out of town, make sure you are prepared for the conditions. Make sure you have the right tires or chains for times when the roads get snowy. Carry a small emergency kit with you that has everything from a thick blanket, to non-perishable food, water, a first-aid kit, and a flashlight in your car. Also make sure you have an ice scraper handy to get all of the ice and snow off your car before you start driving.
Be prepared, drive slowly, and enjoy the holidays!
Top Four Winter Safe Driving Tips
1. Slow down!
2. Keep both hands on the wheel.
3. Leave adequate space between you and other vehicles.
4. Keep an emergency kit in your car.