With Nor’Easters and snow storms coming soon, I’d like to share some winter driving tips.
* Slow down. Often traveling at or less than the speed limit can be dangerous in wet, snowy or icy conditions. Indeed, a police officer can issue you a 3-point speeding ticket for “speed unreasonably prudent” when a motorist drives too fast given the road and weather conditions (even if you are obeying the speed limit). Trying to stop can be challenging too in snowy or icy conditions so slowing down will ensure that you stop where you intend rather than overshooting your target.
* Don’t follow too closely. Tailgating is always dangerous but it is even worse when road conditions are wet, icy or snowy. Following too closely is a 4-point moving violation in New York and is particularly dangerous in challenging weather conditions. The general rule of allowing one car length for every 10 mph that you are proceeding (ex., maintain 5 car lengths between your car and the one in front of you when traveling at 50 mph) should be doubled in wet, snowy or icy conditions.
* Pump your brakes. Slamming on your brakes in snow and/or ice can cause you to skid or fishtail. If you do skid, turn your wheel in the direction of the skid and gently press your brakes. Of course, if you have anti-lock brakes, your car will do the pumping automatically.
* Watch bridges and overpasses. Bridges and overpasses freeze quicker than roadways because air circulates both above and below the surface of the elevated roadway causing the pavement temperature to drop more rapidly. Adding to this hazard is a phenomenon called “black ice“, a transparent and thin coating of glazed ice that forms on roadway surfaces. Black ice is treacherous because it is near-impossible for motorist to detect. Drivers should therefore be especially careful crossing bridges and overpasses when the temperature drops (even if above freezing).
* Recent rain. When it starts to rain, the oils from vehicles that have dripped on roadways float on the thin layer of water resulting is a very slippery condition especially. This hazard dissipates the longer it continues to rain.
*Maintain your car. Make sure your car is properly equipped and all fluids topped. Wiper fluid and properly functioning wiper blades are absolutely mandatory during and following any snow. A malfunctioning car is also an open invitation for a police officer to stop you and issue you an equipment ticket.
Wishing you all a happy and safe holiday season.