We all know the safest thing to do when snow or ice is in the forecast is to just stay put. But the fact is Virginia’s climate is notoriously fickle. This dangerous mix is a constant possibility during winter and sometimes can't be avoided. And except for our neighbors in southwest VA, most Virginians don't get regular practice.
That's why it's important to stay aware of the latest weather updates in the southwest and north and central Virginia.
You can also check road conditions with alerts and VDOT's free mobile apps, and have an emergency car kit.
So what's the safest way to drive in snow and ice especially if you rarely do it? Some folks say just pretend you're taking grandma to church. There's a platter of biscuits and two gallons of sweet tea in glass jars in the back seat. She's wearing a new dress and holding a crock pot full of gravy!
In other words, stick to our experienced advice on driving in Virginia's icy precipitation with these 5 steps:
1. Be Humble & Respect the Elements
No driver (no matter how experienced) and no vehicle (no matter how well-equipped) can drive well in ice.
2. Slow Down
Drive the conditions! In the south you say "just pretend you're taking grandma to church. There's a platter of biscuits and two gallons of sweet tea in glass jars in the back seat. She's wearing a new dress and holding a crock pot full of gravy."
3. Drive Defensively
Allow extra room between you and car ahead of you and avoid changing lanes or passing.
4. Avoid Braking
Control your speed so you can minimize braking as much as possible, especially approaching stop signs and traffic lights.
5. If You Start to Slide
- Take your foot off the accelerator
- Stay calm but alert
- TURN INTO THE SLIDE: Turn your front wheels in the same direction that the rear of your car is sliding (If the rear of the car is sliding to the right, turn the wheel to the right).
- Do not over correct (turn the steering wheel the opposite direction).
- Most cars have anti-lock brakes that safely pumps the brakes for you in this situation. If you have an older vehicle that does not, you should pump the brakes yourself rather than hold the brake pedal down.
Finally, the Virginia Department of Transportation has great information for safe winter driving. While VDOT warns against all unnecessary travel in winter weather, they recommend having an emergency car kit, and staying up to date with statewide highway information before you hit the road.
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