How to Drive in the Snow

Make sure to be careful on the snowy roads during this time of year | Image from www.sxc.hu

Make sure to be careful on the snowy roads during this time of year | Image from www.sxc.hu

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Lexi Preiser ’10
Web Editor-in-Chief

Make sure to be careful on the snowy roads during this time of year | Image from www.sxc.hu

Driving under normal conditions can be perilous. Add unplowed roads, black ice, and inexperienced drivers to the mix and you have yourself a car accident waiting to happen.

There have been two instances this year, the mornings of Dec. 9 and Jan. 8, in which driving conditions have been arguably bad yet the Westport public schools were not delayed, much to the disappointment—and anger—of students and teachers.

With a long winter ahead of us, perhaps we should hang up on the Snow Line and stop waiting around for a delay. What the driving community should really be doing (especially those who just received their licenses) is learning a few safe rules for driving in the snow.

Firstly, if you are a very inexperienced driver or just passed your license test yesterday, there is absolutely no shame in asking your parents to drive you to school for the day. Even after driving for almost two years, I begged my mother to drive me to school on Jan. 8. Forgive my use of this cliché, but in these circumstances it really is better to be safe than sorry.

With the help of weather.com, I have compiled ten important driving tips:

1. Put your seatbelt on!

No one is too cool for safety. This may seem obvious, but wearing your seat belt correctly will keep you safe in the event of a crash.

2. Clean off your entire car before leaving

Always keep an ice scraper in your car so that you can clear off your windshield, side windows, and side view mirrors before leaving your house.

3. Be alert!

If the roads look slick or slippery, they probably are. Be on the look out for black ice and other cars that may be having difficulty braking.

4. Be sure to leave space between you and other cars

Always allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. This way, you will have extra room to stop if your car decides to skid or roll.

5. Brake gently and slowly in order to avoid skidding

Slamming on the brakes when you’re in a hurry may help during the summer, but in snowy conditions this will cause much more harm than help. If you slam the brakes on an icy road, your car will probably skid out of control.

6. Make sure your lights are on so that other drivers can see you

Since many students and teachers have to leave their houses before seven o’clock, it probably will be extra dark the morning of a snowstorm.

7. Don’t be overconfident

Don’t assume that you’re driving a military tank; even cars with four-wheel drive can have severe issues on snowy and icy. Being overconfident in your car can get you into just as much trouble as driving a 1965 Pontiac.

8. If your car begins to skid—don’t panic!

It may be hard to control yourself, but if you can realize what is going on you will be able to think logically and prevent any real damage from occurring. First, let up on the gas. Turn your steering wheel in the direction you want to go. Do not overcompensate by turning the wheel too much; just try to straighten the car out again. Only use your brakes if it is absolutely necessary and make sure you do NOT slam on them. If need be, pump the brakes lightly while turning your wheel in the appropriate direction.

9. Leave yourself extra time to get to school.

If you normally leave your house at 7:15, leave at seven. Remember, everyone else will be driving slowly on the roads so it will take longer to get to school no matter what.

10. Drive slowly!

It’s hard to keep your speed under control when school starts in three minutes and you have a math test first period. However, your teachers will understand and might even be late themselves. Think of it this way: you’ll definitely miss that math test if you crash your car.

It’s only January and there are three more snow-filled months ahead of us. There is nothing more important than safety, especially where new drivers are concerned. If you are looking for more tips on driving in the snow, check out this website.

Do you have any tips for driving in icy conditions? Have you had any scary experiences driving in bad weather? We would love to hear your opinion—post it below!

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