Winter Driving Safety Tips

Red line icon of a carThe snow has fallen and the ice is here. Driving during these conditions can be quite dangerous. Here are a few safety tips to help navigate driving during hazardous road conditions:

  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. And take time to slow down for stoplights. Remember, it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
  • Use caution and drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads. Accelerating, stopping, and turning does not happen as quickly as on dry pavement. Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly.
  • Watch for black ice. Black ice are transparent patches of ice on roads that aren’t easily seen. If you hit a patch you could begin to slide or veer off in another direction. News outlets report black ice conditions and inform you of areas where dry ice may be. Once reported, anticipate most roads are full of black ice and use caution when driving.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to ten seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • Know your brakes. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
  • Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on snow-covered roads just starts your wheels spinning. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed downhill as slowly as possible.
  • Stay home. If you really don’t have to go out, don’t. Even if you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can. If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, watch the snow from indoors.

As you consider traveling this winter season, be prepared before getting on the road!

  1. Have your vehicle inspected for winter driving (checking tires, brakes, lights, etc.)
  2. Always have a full tank of fuel in your vehicle.
  3. Be sure to have extra/warm clothes in your vehicle in the event you’re stranded due to vehicle breakdowns, poor road conditions, or any unforeseen issues.
  4. Let others know when you leave or expect to arrive at your destination.
  5. Have your cell phone with you, and don’t forget the charger. Consider carrying an extra cell phone battery with you.
  6. Finally, don’t push it. If it is too dangerous to drive, don’t.

If Your Car Gets Stuck

  • Make certain your wheels are not turned to the side when you try to back up or go forward. The car will be easier to move if the wheels are pointed straight.
  • Remove as much snow as possible from around each wheel. Clear snow from the wheel tracks.
  • If the wheels are spinning, sprinkle sand in front of and behind all four wheels, where they meet the snow or ice.
  • Try to move the vehicle (even by an inch or two), and stop. Turn off the car, and secure the emergency brake for safety. Then sprinkle more sand around all four wheels, and repeat.

Unfortunately, for university liability reasons, staff are not allowed to help residents with stuck cars. Make sure you have cold weather gear in your car (hat, mittens, and scarf) in case you have to walk for assistance.

If you have questions or concerns, please feel free to contact the University Apartments Office at 608-262-3407 or the Apartment Facilities Office at 608-262-2037.
Take care and stay safe!