Snow and ice are rare in the Triangle, but it never hurts to be prepared, especially as temperatures threaten to dip below freezing.
Nancy Seymour, who designed the popular “ABCs of Car Care” class for Atlantic Tire and Service, offers the following tips for safe winter driving.
1. If possible, stay at home. But if you must leave home, leave earlier and don’t rush.
2. Pay attention on slick roads and slow down. Allow yourself plenty of room to stop; leave at least three times as much space between you and the car ahead of you. Use extra caution on bridges and overpasses.
3. Brake gently. With standard brakes, gently pump; with ABS brakes, apply steady pressure.
4. Try not to stop while driving on icy streets, especially if it is hilly. If you have to stop, try to find a flat section of the roadway. Once your car is moving, use a lower gear to ease up the hill.
5. Don’t assume your car can handle all conditions. Even 4-wheel drive vehicles can have difficulty on ice. If your rear wheels start to skid, take your foot off the accelerator and gently turn your wheels in the direction your car is sliding. If your wheels slide left, turn the steering wheel to the left.
“You always have to think what you are doing,” Seymour said.
It’s a good idea to carry non-clumping cat litter in your trunk when the weather starts to get bad. If you get stuck on an icy road, pour a track of litter in front of each tire. Gently rock the car back and forth, moving from drive to reverse.
“Since the car has something to grip, you’re not just stranded,” said Seymour. “Cat litter is a good thing to have, and it doesn’t hurt the environment.”