Driving Safety Tips for Winter Weather Conditions in Louisiana
Southerners aren't as accustomed to driving during hazardous winter weather conditions as those in the north. If you must be out on the roads when the road are icy or snowy, these winter weather driving tips will help keep you and your family safe.
We spoke to Bud Chauncey from First Class Driving School, who shared a few important driving tips with us.
First, cut your speed in half if you feel any ice or snow on the road. "It's a good idea to know what kind of brakes you have - anti-lock brakes versus regular," Chauncey says. "Anything from 2012 and up has anti-lock brakes on it."
He adds that it's also a good idea to test the road when no one's behind you to see if you're getting any traction. Following distance needs to triple during hazardous conditions so if a vehicle in front of you goes into a skid, you have time to avoid crashing into it.
How are driving on ice and snow different?
"With snow, it's more like gravel or grass, in that it's not allowing you to get to a hard surface and get a grip," Chauncey says. "You'd rather that than ice in general, because with ice, the grip is just so minimal.” But he says if you brake the way you normally do - which, hopefully, is gently - and you steer the way you normally steer, it’s manageable. He says typically, drivers don’t adjust for those conditions.
Proper car maintenance is also important in preparing for any winter weather.
Make sure your battery terminals are clean and well-connected. See that whatever anti-freeze you’re using has the correct mix. And tire pressure is key.
“As the temperature drops, your tire pressure drops,” says Chauncey. “So you want to make sure you’re watching that more carefully. And usually, any of the oil change places will fill your air if you ask nicely.”
He also recommends you get a cheap ice scraper, rather than utilizing a credit card. And scrape the whole thing, not just part of it.
“I saw [someone] driving down the road a couple of snowstorms ago. He cleared out a little porthole, that’s it, on his windshield,” Chauncey explains. “He was trying to drive down the road and see out of it. And everything else was snow-covered all around him. It was like driving a Sherman tank, as far as his visibility was concerned.”
If you don’t clear all the ice from your windshield before turning on your wipers, it could ruin the motor -- and those are expensive to replace.
Another safety tip is to clean your headlights, and keep them on anytime the sun is not visible.
“If you’re in a gray or light-colored car, or an earth-tone car, you’re blending in, especially on those back roads,” Chauncey says. “One out of every seven collisions, the other driver says ‘I never saw the guy.’ And that’s part of the battle, being seen out here.”