Tips for Tough Driving Situations
Weather Can Affect How Your Car Operates on the Road
For a new driver, changes in weather or even the time of day can provide unique challenges as a variety of driving conditions are experienced for the first time. Here are some tips to keep in mind before you face unfamiliar driving situations.
For night driving, rain, snow and any less than optimal driving conditions:
- Make sure driving lights are on, but don't use high beams which increase glare
- Slow down
- Increase following distance - the space between you and the car ahead of you
- As always, avoid distractions and stay focused on the road
- Never use cruise control when roads are slick
- Know that antilock brakes and four-wheel drive will not help you stop faster, they simply help you maintain control of the car while you are braking
- Steer in the direction you want to go if you begin to skid
- Scrape your entire windshield and windows, and brush snow from the hood, trunk and lights
In severe lightning, high winds, blinding rain or snow:
- Pull off the road, turn off your engine and stay in your car
- Turn on your emergency flashers
- Don't park under trees or in low-lying areas prone to flooding
- Don't touch metal objects, such as door handles, radio controls or the steering wheel if lightning is present
More about winter weather
Winter driving can be treacherous even for experienced drivers. As a new driver, ask yourself these questions before getting behind the wheel:
- Are roads icy or is an ice storm imminent? If so, stay put. Remember, you can't stop, accelerate or steer on ice.
- What are the road and visibility conditions over my entire planned route? Local news stations and their Internet sites often provide detailed, up-to-the-minute weather information. Tolerable conditions in the city may worsen in rural areas, where blowing snow can create whiteouts.
- Is this trip absolutely necessary? It's often easier, more efficient and less stressful - not to mention safer - to wait out a storm rather than risk your life by inching through it.
- Driving a four-wheel drive vehicle? You need to reduce your speed on ice and snow.
Beware of black ice. This practically invisible ice forms on bridges and underpasses and in shaded areas. If you detect black ice, slowly and gently steer, brake or downshift. Sudden movements can cause the car to spin.
Be extra cautious around cars with frost- or snow-covered windows, chances are higher that these drivers can't see you.