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Best Practices For Holiday Driving

During the holidays, people like to travel.  That’s perfectly understandable when you consider spending time with family and friends is a big part of what makes this time of year special.  However, traveling in the Winter creates its own set of challenges for any driver.   Not only do you have to navigate the roadway and drivers around you, but snow and ice also become part of the equation.  Therefore, it is imperative that you utilize safe driving practices this holiday season.  Otherwise, you and your loved ones could get seriously injured while your vehicle may end up needing windshield repairs.

Now, before any driver goes and puts his or her vehicle in harm’s way this Winter, it goes without saying that basic car maintenance must be performed first.   That means checking the air pressure and tread of all four tires, inspecting the vehicle’s window glass for any cracks or chips, making sure the windshield wipers and defroster work, as well as checking to ensure the vehicle’s braking system is in exceptional condition.

After putting the vehicle through a rigorous inspection and determining it is road-ready, it is time to familiarize yourself with safe driving practices for treacherous road conditions.   First and foremost, clean your windshield of any snow or ice using your vehicle’s wipers or defroster.  None of these other safe driving practices matter if you can’t see while driving.   Once the windshield is free of any distractions, lower your speed, and increase your distance between your car and the one in front of you.   Tailgating is bad enough in normal conditions, but on a slick road it increases your odds of getting in an accident substantially.

Secondly, accelerate slowly.   If you try to gun it on a slick patch of snow or ice, your wheels will start to spin, and skidding is in your future.  If for whatever reason your vehicle begins to skid, remember to gently let off the accelerator while turning the steering wheel in the direction of the skid.  Conversely, it is also a good idea to brake slowly.   If you pump the brakes too fast, you may not give your vehicle enough time to come to a complete stop without hitting the vehicle in front of you, and could end up locking the wheels in the process.  That also causes your car to slide or skid.

Another good rule of thumb when driving during the holidays is to only perform one action at a time.  Whether its braking, accelerating, or turning, no driver should try and do two of those things at once.   The slippery condition of the road makes it hard enough to complete one of those activities, let alone two of them, at the same time.   This is where the old adage “gradually slow down before making a turn” comes in handy. However, safe driving shouldn’t stop when you begin to make the turn.  At that time, it becomes imperative to avoid any sudden actions.  That can be hard braking, quickly turning the steering wheel, a jolt of acceleration, or even shifting a manual transmission.   These movements quickly transfer the weight of your vehicle from from end to the other, and in slick conditions, spells disaster.

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