Conditions like snowstorm whiteouts, which hamper visibility, and "black ice," a near-invisible layer of ice caused by snow melting and freezing again, often make winter driving unpredictable and dangerous. If you find yourself in a skid, steer carefully and avoid overreacting to keep control of the car. In cars with antilock brakes systems (ABS), the brakes are automatically pumped for you in a skid situation. You should feel the brake pedal pulsating. If you're driving a car without ABS, apply easy pressure in a pumping motion to the brakes. In the event of an accident, remain calm, follow these safety tips, and call for help.
- Try to get to the right side of the road as far away from traffic as possible.
- Stay in your car with your seatbelt on. Put the hazard lights on so others on the road can see you.
- If a flare is available, use that to call attention to your vehicle. Tying a bright piece of cloth to the antenna works as well.
- If you get stuck in snow, straighten the wheels and accelerate slowly. Avoid spinning the tires and digging yourself in deeper. Rock the vehicle back and forth, using its weight and momentum to get unstuck.
- If you can't get going, run the engine only a few minutes at a time to stay warm. Periodically crack a window to get fresh air. Keep the exhaust pipe clear of snow so harmful carbon monoxide fumes don't drift back through the car's interior.
Agencies like AAA and FEMA recommend staying off the roads if the weather is too hazardous in your area. Not knowing how to maneuver your vehicle through a winter storm jeopardizes you, your passengers, and other drivers sharing the road with you. Getting your car ready for winter and anticipating and avoiding dangerous circumstances will help keep you safely on the road and in control.