As winter is poised to affect every resident of Pennsylvania and the state’s millions of visitors annually, the transformed roads are going to necessitate an adjustment of everyone’s driving habits. Oftentimes, underneath picturesque blankets of snow are icy conditions, making safe driving a paramount concern for residents and visitors alike during the colder months.
Pennsylvania’s winter weather can be unpredictable, with temperatures that fluctuate above and below freezing, leading to a freeze-thaw cycle that can create black ice on roadways, especially overnight or early in the morning. Snowstorms, sleet and freezing rain are also common, each presenting unique challenges for drivers. Being prepared for each of these conditions in turn can help you and your loved ones avoid preventable crashes this coming season.
Being prepared for winter driving starts with your vehicle. This includes installing winter or all-season tires that provide better traction, checking your battery and ensuring your windshield wipers and defrosters are in good working order to better maintain visibility.
When you’re on the road during winter, defensive driving is a must. Speed limits are set for dry conditions, so when the roads are wet, icy or snow-covered, reducing your speed is essential. Also, increasing your following distance allows for longer braking distances on slick surfaces.
And speaking of slick surfaces, understanding how to control your vehicle during a skid is vital. If your vehicle begins to slide, remain calm, gently lift off the accelerator and steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go. For those without anti-lock brakes, avoid slamming on the brakes to prevent a lock-up.
Finally, before setting out, plan your route and check the latest weather forecasts and traffic reports. If conditions are severe, consider whether your journey is essential or if it can be postponed. Let someone know your route and expected arrival time when traveling long distances so that they’ll know to follow up with you if you don’t arrive on time in case something has gone wrong.