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Safety Tips for Driving through the Snow

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Inclement weather conditions can impact driving, and Indiana gets plenty of it. Elkhart, for example, ranked 19 on the City-Data.com list of the top 101 cities with the highest average annual snowfall. Knowing how to navigate them properly could prevent an accident. Keep the following tips in mind when driving through snow.

Prepare Your Vehicle for Snow

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Even before the first snowfall, it’s a good idea to get your vehicle ready. This could help not only avoid a collision but prepare you if there is an emergency. First, perform a checkup.

A checkup should include:

  • Battery
  • Fluids
  • Brakes
  • Heater
  • Defroster
  • Wiring
  • Spark plugs
  • Lights
  • Windshield washer system

Inspect tires for worn tread or cuts. Put on snow tires and ensure the spare tire is properly inflated. Have the right equipment in the event of an emergency. Keep a set of jumper cables in the vehicle.

Equipment that can help when stuck in the snow includes:

  • A shovel
  • Tire chains
  • A bag of kitty litter or salt
  • An ice scraper
  • Snow brush

A survival kit is also important in case you are stranded, this should include:

  • Blankets
  • Extra clothing (jackets, gloves, hats, and scarfs)
  • Flashlight
  • First-aid kit
  • Flares or reflective warning triangles
  • Matches
  • Water
  • Non-perishable food

Read our checklist for building a car emergency kit.

Driving on Snow-Covered Roads

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Although snow in itself can be slippery, there may be other conditions that contribute. For instance, underneath that white blanket of snow there could also be black ice.

The following tips can make driving through snow safer:

  • Wear your seat belt
  • Reduce speed
  • Increase following distance
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly
  • Do not slam on the brakes
  • Don’t apply extra gas or stop when going up a hill
  • Don’t use cruise control
  • Turn on low beams
  • Remove snow and ice from windows as needed

What to Do If the Vehicle Starts to Skid or Gets Stuck

If the vehicle hits a slippery patch, it may start to skid. If the rear tires are skidding, take your foot off the accelerator and steer in the direction of the skid. So if you’re skidding right, steer to the right. Apply your brakes. Pump them if you don’t have anti-lock brakes.

If the front tires start to skid, take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral. Wait until the vehicle slows and traction returns. When this happens, aim the vehicle back in your direction of travel. Then put take the vehicle out of neutral and accelerate gently.

If your vehicle gets stuck in the snow, first clear snow away from the tires (this is where your shovel from your emergency car kit can come in handy). To help with traction, apply salt or kitty litter in the path of the wheels. Start rocking the car back and forth. As you regain traction, accelerate gently.

If you’re ever in an accident in Indiana due to another driver’s negligent actions – in wintry weather or not – check out our Consumer’s Guide for Injured Victims to protect a potential claim.