Driving in the snow safely

Story courtesy of the USAG Ansbach Safety Office

ANSBACH, Germany (Jan. 3, 2017) — Follow these steps before and while you drive in snowy weather and you’ll be ahead of the game.

  • Clear ice and snow off the car before you start driving. Snow left on top of the car can slide off and obstruct your vision and that of those around you. Allow for more time than normally required.
  • Stock the car with blankets, food and water. Don’t forget your phone.
  • Keep your speed down and allow more time to stop and steer.  Pay attention, don’t try to out drive the conditions.  Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • The normal dry pavement following distance of three to four seconds should be increased to eight to 10 seconds. This increased margin of safety will provide the longer distance needed if you have to stop.
  • 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. Take time to slow down for a stoplight. Remember: It takes longer to slow down on snowy/icy roads.
  • How to take a hill: Get some momentum before you start up a hill, and let it carry you to the top. Avoid hitting the gas pedal on the way up because it can cause wheel spin. Once you’re at the top, reduce speed and descend slowly.
  • Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS) and need to slow down quickly, press hard on the pedal-it’s normal for the pedal to vibrate a bit when the ABS is activated.
  • Remember that the road in front of the plow is usually in much worse condition than the roadway behind the plow. Plows will typically travel under 35 miles per hour and there is always a temptation to pass them. For your safety, it is recommended that you stay a safe distance behind the snowplows.
  • If you do encounter a skid, steer gently into it – for example, if the rear of the car is sliding to the right, steer to the right. Do not take your hands off the steering wheel or stamp your foot on the brakes
  • Sunglasses can help to reduce the glare of low winter sun on the snow.
  • Check you wind shield washer fluid – Use a good quality wash that protects down to at least -35 degrees.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full.
  • Do not use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface (wet, ice, sand).
  • Stay in your vehicle. Walking in a storm can be very dangerous. You can lose your way, wander out of reach, become exhausted, collapse, and risk your life. Your vehicle itself is a good shelter.
  • 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. Don’t tempt fate: If you don’t have somewhere to be, watch the snow from indoors.
  • Use your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle.
  • Winter driving requires motorists to be careful and alert, but the most important tip for winter driving is: SLOW DOWN!

To learn more, call the Installation Safety Office at 0981-183-1670/7594 or DSN 468-1670/7594.


See USAG Ansbach’s inclement weather safety procedures here: https://ansbachhometownherald.com/inclement-weather/.

For more on safety, visit the Safety Office’s page at www.ansbach.army.mil/Safety.html.

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