7 Ways to Drive Safely on Icy Roads this Holiday Season

It’s the most wonderful time of the year. The holiday season is finally here!

December is full of time with friends and family, drinking hot chocolate, and watching Hallmark movies. However, as winter approaches and you and your family prepare to travel to visit other family members, road conditions could vary.

As a kid, a white Christmas was exciting and magical! As the designated driver of your family’s holiday road trip, a white Christmas is more like a potential nightmare.

Whether your family is just ten minutes away or in New York, you never know when you’ll have a white Christmas. It’s always best to be prepared so you can protect yourself, your family, and others on the road this holiday season.

While driving safely on the roads is one thing; driving safely on icy roads is another.

Here are seven ways you can stay safe this holiday season.

Don’t drive if you don’t have to.

First and foremost, don’t drive in icy conditions if you don’t have to. If the roads are bad, stay home if at all possible.

If you can, enjoy your holidays from the safety of your home with your family and a nice cup of hot chocolate by the cozy fireplace.

However, there are instances where staying off the roads is not an option. One of the biggest instances is if you are already on the road when the snowstorm hits or if you have to commute to school or work.

Check your car before leaving.

Before you hit the road, make sure your car is prepared for the weather. 

As the winter season sets in, be sure to winterize your vehicle. 

Before a major road trip, you should check your:

  • Tire pressure
  • Gas tank
  • Windshield wipers
  • Battery 
  • Engine 
  • Anti-freeze/coolant
  • Ice scraper

Another thing to do before hitting the icy roads is to completely defrost your windows. It’ll make it easier for you to see what’s around you and stay alert during your road trip. 

When you check your vehicle for any possible issues before a road trip, you are setting yourself up for success. 

In addition to making sure that your vehicle is ready for the trip, make sure you are prepared if you were to get stuck in the cold icy conditions. Some things that can be helpful to have with you are:

  • Kitty Litter (You can put this under your tires to create some traction).
  • A shovel to dig yourself out if necessary
  • Extra snacks and water
  • Warm clothes and/or blankets
  • A coffee can with a candle in it and matches in a ziplock bag  (A candle in a coffee can generate some heat if needed).

Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination.

You don’t want to be in a hurry while trying to drive in icy conditions. Give yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. 

Icy roads might create traffic jams due to vehicle collisions. Drive slower so you have a longer reaction time in case you or another vehicle slips on the road, or so you have plenty of time to brake safely if you come up on stopped vehicles.

Follow the rules of the road.

This rule applies all the time, not just in icy conditions.

Before driving, it’s always a good idea to double-check that everyone in the car is safe. This includes staying buckled and one person to a seat. This is important especially with young children who need help buckling.

During the cold weather, parents often want to make sure their baby or toddler is warm during the car ride. It’s important to note that large, puffy coats could cause safety hazards for your child in the car. It can interfere with the car harness working properly.

Instead of keeping your child in their winter coats in the car, try a light jacket and place a blanket over your child after you have buckled them. This will still provide warmth, but it will also create a safer environment for your child during your road trip.

While cruise control is a great way to make sure you’re obeying the speed limit, especially during road trips, you should never use cruise control in icy or wet conditions. With cruise control, it is often difficult to detect loss of traction and could cause you to have delayed a reaction time.

Stay alert.

One of the best ways to stay alert on the road is to make sure you get plenty of rest the night before. 

According to the CDC, drowsy driving is similar to driving drunk. If you’re tired, switch off drivers if possible. If that is not an option, stop somewhere to rest before continuing your trip. It is better to arrive late than to not arrive at all.

Studies also show that distracted driving more than doubles your risk of getting in a vehicle collision.

There are three main categories of distracted driving: visual, manual, and cognitive. All of these are equally hazardous. But even more hazardous when treacherous road conditions are present. Be even more proactive about eliminating distractions.

Your phone can be a huge distraction while driving. One of the best ways to combat this is to choose your road trip playlist before putting the car in drive. Ask your passenger to respond to any urgent texts or messages. Also, use your Bluetooth in your car to talk on the phone.

On long road trips, it’s also common to eat while driving. This is a manual distraction and can be dangerous. Instead, take time to stop and eat or have someone else drive while you eat in the car.

Keep a safe distance.

If the roads are slick, you’re likely to slide on the road a little bit even after you’ve hit the breaks. This is important to keep in mind when you’re driving.

In driver’s ed, you’re taught the Three Second Rule when driving around other vehicles. The idea is that you have a three-second reaction time. Another thing they teach you is to keep a three-car length’s distance between you and the vehicle in front of you.

In inclement weather such as icy roads, you will want to exaggerate the Three Second Rule by maintaining about eight to ten seconds between you and the vehicle in front of you. This will increase your reaction time and keep everyone safe on the road.

If you slide on ice, don’t panic.

It’s best to know what to do in case you slide before you actually slide on ice. It might sound pedestrian, but know if your vehicle has all-wheel drive, front-wheel drive or rear-wheel drive.  Knowing this information will dictate how you respond to a slide on the vehicle.

Here are a couple of scenarios to prepare for:

If your rear wheels lock up, you’ll want to take your foot off the gas. Then, you should turn your steering wheel in the direction the rear of the car is going. After you’ve done this, you should apply gentle pressure to your brakes or anti-lock brakes.

If your front wheels lock up, you should take your foot off of the accelerator, shift your gear into neutral, and hold onto the steering wheel loosely. lf you let go of the steering wheel, the ruts in the snow or ice could jerk you into the other lane. Once you’ve slowed down, you can begin to slowly turn your steering wheel.

One of the biggest things to keep in mind is to never make sudden maneuvers. It will only make sliding worse. Allow your vehicle to slow down before trying to gain control again.

Maples, Nix, & Diesselhorst Stands with You

It’s always best to know the safety precautions you should take before you actually need them. At Maples, Nix, & Diesselhorst, we hope you have fun travels with your family this holiday season and stay safe on the roads – icy or not.

We hope you never need us, but if you or a loved one have suffered catastrophic or permanent personal injuries in a vehicle collision due to someone else’s negligence, our team is prepared to help you.

We have the knowledge, skills, and resources to successfully represent individuals and families throughout Oklahoma who have sustained serious injuries or death due to a vehicle collision. 

When you partner with Maples, Nix, & Diesselhorst, you become a part of our family. Family fights alongside one another.

Call our dedicated team at (405) 478-3737 for a free consultation. We stand with you.

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