Be Prepared to drive in winter weather - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

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Be Prepared to drive in winter weather

Science and common sense can help you stay safe on wintry roads. (Source: WAFF) Science and common sense can help you stay safe on wintry roads. (Source: WAFF)
(WAFF) -

Time and time again, we’ll get just an inch or two of winter weather, and it causes major travel headaches and dozens of wrecks.

While our lack of experience certainly plays a role, it also comes down to a bit of science.

Typically, our precipitation starts as rain with milder temperatures preceding the event. When snow first comes in, it melts because the ground and road temperature are above freezing.

But when the temperatures fall below freezing, that water will freeze into a sheet of ice, and additional snow begins to accumulate on top of that.

So not only does that rain water make it more difficult to treat roadways, it also can be deceiving for just how bad the roads are, meaning more people will likely risk being on the roads.

The absolute number one tip for traveling in winter weather is to not travel in winter weather if at all possible. Just don’t risk it.

If you have to get on the roads:

Drive slowly. Everything takes longer on snow-covered roads – accelerating, stopping, turning. Apply the gas slowly to gain the most traction and avoid skidding and brake slowly with a lot of stopping distance to avoid losing traction.

Increase your normal following distance between other cars.

Don’t power up hills. Applying extra gas on icy roads just gets your wheels spinning. Try to gain a little inertia before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. Do not stop mid-way. There is nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy. As you crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down the hill as slowly as possible.

If your car skids, keep a cool head, don’t slam on the brakes, take your foot off the gas, and gently steer your car the direction you want it to go. Wait for the car to slow down before trying to regain control.

If you get stuck, don’t keeps spinning your wheels hoping for traction. You’ll end up digging a deeper hole. Spread sand or kitty litter in front and behind the drive wheels and try to slowly get unstuck.

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