Nav­i­gate icy roads safely

The Covington News - - The Second Front -

Win­ter roads are rarely safe. Mo­torists who live in ar­eas of heavy snow­fall know full well the dangers of driv­ing in the snow, while driv­ers who don’t rou­tinely drive on snowy roads might face slick and icy con­di­tions as win­ter hits full swing. Re­gard­less of the ob­sta­cles a mo­torist faces in the win­ter, de­fen­sive driv­ing is al­ways the safest ap­proach to take. De­fen­sive driv­ing in­volves an­tic­i­pat­ing po­ten­tial dangers on the road, and those dangers in­clude harsh weather con­di­tions. Though some re­gions never get any snow, most places where win­ters get cold do ex­pe­ri­ence icy roads. To be safe on icy roads this win­ter, con­sider the fol­low­ing tips.

• Leave sev­eral car lengths be­tween cars. Driv­ers who nor­mally pre­fer one car length be­tween their ve­hi­cle and the one in front of them should main­tain at least three car lengths when the roads are icy. Ice is of­ten dif­fi­cult to see, much less pre­dict, so it’s safer to leave sig­nif­i­cant dis­tances be­tween ve­hi­cles in case an ice patch causes a car to spin out of con­trol.

• De­crease speeds. Most peo­ple walk gin­gerly on ice, and the same should go for driv­ing on ice. Driv­ing at lower speeds is ideal in any harsh weather con­di­tions, but es­pe­cially valu­able when the roads are icy and ice patches can ap­pear sud­denly and make it dif­fi­cult to main­tain con­trol of a ve­hi­cle.

• Don’t use over­drive or cruise con­trol. Over­drive might help in a snow­storm, but should be avoided when the roads are icy. The same goes for cruise con­trol, which should never be turned on when con­di­tions are icy. Cruise con­trol makes it easy for mo­torists’ minds to wan­der, a dan­ger­ous con­se­quence should an icy patch of road sud­denly ap­pear.

• When you have to brake, do so gen­tly. Icy roads call for gen­tly brak­ing to avoid skid­ding. Driv­ers should be able to feel if their wheels are start­ing to lock up. If wheels be­gin to lock up, gen­tly ease off the brake. Slam­ming on the brakes on an icy road will al­most cer­tainly send the ve­hi­cle into a tail­spin, pos­si­bly push­ing it into on­com­ing traf­fic or even off the road.

• Drive care­fully on any bridges or over­passes. Warn­ing signs ac­com­pany many bridges, in­form­ing mo­torists that the bridge freezes in icy con­di­tions. But mo­torists shouldn’t rely solely on signs to in­form them of a po­ten­tially frozen bridge. The sign might not be vis­i­ble in win­ter weather. To be safe, al­ways pro­ceed with cau­tion when cross­ing a bridge in icy con­di­tions.

• Be pa­tient with snow plows and salt trucks. They plod along the roads at a snail’s pace, but driv­ers should never pass plows or salt trucks. The roads ahead of plows and trucks are likely in poor con­di­tion, and vis­i­bil­ity from plows and trucks is of­ten less than ideal, mean­ing the driv­ers might not see pass­ing mo­torists, in­creas­ing the risk of a traf­fic ac­ci­dent.

• Main­tain a clean wind­shield. Ice patches are dif­fi­cult enough to see as it is, but a dirty wind­shield only de­creases the al­ready limited vis­i­bil­ity. Keep a bot­tle of wind­shield washer fluid at the ready and don’t sim­ply rely on the fluid al­ready in the ve­hi­cle’s wind­shield fluid tank. In es­pe­cially icy con­di­tions, that fluid might freeze or ice may block the fluid from leav­ing the tank.

Tharon Gid­dens/The Cov­ing­ton News

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