How to Combat the Fear of Winter Driving - NYCM Insurance Blog

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Jan 5, 2022

How to Combat the Fear of Winter Driving

Snow, sleet, and ice, oh my! The fear of winter driving is not uncommon, and while you can’t always control the conditions in which you are driving, there are ways to help you be prepared and settle your nerves.

Continue reading below to learn more about ways to confront your fears of winter driving.

  1. Prepare Your Vehicle Before Your Travels  

Prior to getting on the road, it’s a good idea to prepare your vehicle. Clean off the exterior of your vehicle, removing any snow, ice, or dirt build-up. Ensure that your side mirrors and any sensors that your vehicle may have are clear. Check your tires to make sure they are in working order, assessing things like tire pressure and tread. Installing snow tires on your vehicle can make it easier to navigate snowy roads. If you have all-season tires, make sure that the tread is more than 2/32 of an inch–if not, they should be replaced according to the United States Department of Transportation. Click here to learn how to properly check your tire’s tread.

  1. Leave Plenty of Time to Arrive at Your Destination

Making sure that you leave with plenty of time to get to your destination is beneficial for not only those with a fear of winter driving but a good rule of thumb for all winter travelers. Even while driving on your typical route, you may not know what the terrain will become after snow or ice has accumulated. Leaving early ensures that you will not have to rush on the roads, and you can take your time in the event of any accidents that can put you behind schedule.

  1. Slow Down

When you’ve given yourself plenty of time to arrive at your destination, you can employ one of the best tactics to ensure you travel safely: slowing down. Slowing down on the roads is one of the best ways to cope with winter driving because a lot of the accidents occur when a vehicle is moving too fast and is unable to stop because of slick road conditions. Slowing down helps you better control your vehicle when there could be black ice or sharp turns along the way.

  1. Stay in Your Lane

Whether it’s snow squalls blowing through the road, or a bright glare from the sun on the snow, visibility can be a big concern for those anxious about driving in the winter. One way to protect yourself, your passengers, and other vehicles on the road is to avoid any unnecessary lane changes. You may notice after heavy snowfall some lanes are more plowed, or more heavily traveled than others. Make an effort to drive in plowed lanes, or lanes where other vehicles have formed a visible track. This can help you stay in your lane if the lines become difficult to see.

  1. Vehicle Handling

There are a few different tips you can try to help you become more comfortable with how your vehicle handles in the snow. First, don’t use cruise control in snowy conditions as it may cause your tires to spin faster and lose control if there is ice on the road. Also, avoid sudden stops, gear shifts, and fast turns. If you find yourself in a skid, try to remain calm and take your foot off the accelerator. Next, ease on the break and make small adjustments in the direction you want to go in.

  1. Increase Distance Between Vehicles 

In non-winter conditions, motorists should follow a three second rule: your vehicle should be about three seconds stopping-distance behind the vehicle in front of you. In the winter, this should be increased to five to six seconds so that you have ample time to stop or react to the road or vehicles ahead of you. These extra few seconds can be precious if you need to stop at a moment’s notice.

  1. Staying Alert

Be aware of your surroundings, including the sound and feel of your vehicle. Areas of terrain that you should be on the lookout for and proceed with caution toward are bridges, overpasses, and ramps. These areas tend to freeze first and stay frozen for longer than the typical road, and are often culprits of black ice.

  1. Be Prepared for the Unexpected

You can always try your best to avoid unfortunate events on the road, but sometimes they are inevitable. Having vehicle supplies such as extra windshield wiper fluid, oil, a snow brush, an ice scraper, jumper cables, tire chains, and rope could make the difference for you or someone else having a bad day on the roads. Other items you may want to have on hand can be found in your car safety kit, including a blanket, winter gloves, and a winter hat in case you ever have to wait for assistance. And if it ever comes to it, remember, it is safer to stay inside your vehicle than outside when waiting for help.

  1. Staying In

If possible, avoid unnecessary trips when driving conditions are poor. If the forecast calls for heavy snow, ice, or wind, make sure you are stocked up on supplies so that you don’t have to go out for any food or household necessities before the roads are cleared. While it’s helpful to be able to overcome your fear of driving in the winter, there are times (such as a declared state of emergency) when it’s simply unsafe for anyone to travel.
Winter driving can be scary with all of the different elements complicating your commute. However, practicing these winter driving tips can help you be prepared for winter conditions on the road. Click  below for more tips on keeping your vehicle prepared in the winter!