One of the lessons we guess nearly all of us can remember from our school days is the Aesop’s fable of the tortoise and the hare. The basic message is: slow and steady beats fast and furious.
Well, okay, maybe that isn’t always true, but we often think of it when some tail-gater pulls out and zooms past on the highway only to meet up again at the next traffic signal. They never seem to learn the lesson or realize the unnecessary risks they take.
Winter driving adds to those risks by throwing all sorts of extra hazards at us – earlier darkness in most places, rain, snow and ice, plus road surfaces pitted and pot-holed either by the weather or studded / chained tires.
This calls for extra caution when you’re driving and though we are not urging you to travel at tortoise speed, it is important that you allow extra time for your journey and ease off on the gas, no matter how rushed you feel.
We thought it might be helpful to pass on a few more winter safety driving tips. Even if you already know them – most are commonsense anyway – sometimes re-reading them helps fix them in your mind before your next road trip.
This is especially important if you happen to be traveling to an area, for the Holidays or a vacation say, where the roads will be unfamiliar and perhaps the driving conditions tougher than those you’re used to. Here are our Top 10 rules:
- Put your headlights on, even during daytime. Many vehicles now do this automatically but if yours isn’t one of them, get into the habit of switching on.
- Leave more space between you and the vehicle in front. If it’s wet, you need at least twice the normal stopping distance. In snow and ice it can be 10-times, yes 10 times, the distance!
- Following on from the above point, always brake slowly when roads are slippery; slamming on the brakes leads to skids.
- Keep your eyes peeled for cyclists and walkers who will not be as visible during rain or darkness, especially if they don’t wear reflective gear.
- Don’t try to drive through a flooded area. You may see others driving through deep water; before following them, just think of the consequences of breaking down there.
- Take a cellphone and an emergency breakdown kit that includes a lighted warning triangle; if your car breaks down erect the triangle, use your car’s flashing warning lights.
- Take weatherproof clothing. Even if you don’t intend to get out of the car, you may not have a choice.
- If you’re planning a long journey or driving through an isolated area, take extra clothing, food supplies and water.
- If weather conditions are severe, or there’s a storm warning, think twice about whether the journey is really necessary. If you do go, take chains if there’s ice or snow.
- Winter driving demands extra concentration. Turn the music (and the cellphone) off and limit potential distractions, from children, even noisy adults, and pets.
Plus, of course, leave early and take your time. Meeting hurriers at the traffic signal is one thing. Seeing them in the aftermath of an accident is another. We don’t want you to be one of them.