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DMV gives winter driving tips

Posted on Thursday, December 5, 2013 at 11:28 am

RICHMOND – As part of winter preparedness, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) reminds drivers to completely clear their cars of ice and snow before driving in wintry conditions.

“Snow and ice on the roof, hood or trunk of a car can fall into the path of another vehicle, leading the driver to swerve in icy conditions,” said DMV Commissioner Richard D. Holcomb, the governor’s highway safety representative. “Also, snow flying off of a car can impair your view or the view of another driver. Taking a few extra minutes to completely clear your car of snow and ice can help prevent traffic crashes.”

During the late fall and winter of 2012, snow or sleet was a contributing factor in 1,998  traffic crashes in Virginia, including five fatalities. When the road surface is covered with snow or ice, driving becomes hazardous and visibility is reduced. Drivers are encouraged to slow down, and increase following distance from three seconds to at least six seconds. The braking distance for road surfaces with rain, snow and ice can be from three to nine times greater than stopping distances on dry, clear roads. Icy conditions may also obscure lane markings and traffic signs.

Motorists should be aware that all types of vehicles, even those with four-wheel, front-wheel and all-wheel drive, can encounter trouble on snowy and icy roads. “No matter what type of vehicle you are driving, extra caution is the rule of thumb in bad weather,” Holcomb said.

Sometimes motorists who encounter a slippery road surface react with a sudden response or over-correction, such as jerking the steering wheel to the right or left, or by slamming on the brakes. This reaction may cause the vehicle to skid, swerve into oncoming traffic or run off the roadway. Motorists can avoid sudden surprises by decreasing speed and increasing the space cushion of their vehicle.

Follow these tips when driving during winter weather conditions:

  • Remove all snow and ice from your vehicle, including the roof, before driving.
  • Decrease your speed and increase your following distance.
  • Turn on your lights, and make sure they are clear of snow and ice.
  • Do not use cruise control or overdrive.
  • Do not pass snow plows or sanding trucks.
  • Allow for extra traveling time.
  • Stay in the right lane except when passing.
  • Steer with smooth and precise movements to prevent skidding.
  • Remember to move over, yield the right-of-way, or reduce speed when approaching stationary emergency vehicles on roadways.
  • Do not cut in front of large trucks, especially during winter driving conditions: Remember that trucks are heavier and take longer to make a complete stop, so avoid cutting quickly in front of them.