Here is how to drive on ice or snow (if absolutely necessary)

KPRC 2 is urging drivers to delay trips when bad weather is expected

HOUSTON – Winter weather is expected to impact many areas of the Lone Star State these next few days.

Driving in winter conditions such as ice or snow can be extremely challenging-- to be honest, we’d rather you just stay home.

Drivers should delay trips when there is severe weather. But, if you absolutely have to make a trip in the winter weather, we encourage you to stay updated with weather forecasts and driving conditions in your area.

AAA Texas has provided some tips on how to protect your vehicle before driving in bad weather:

  • Clean the outside and inside of your windshield at least once a week.
  • Keep your car’s windshield and rear-window defrosters in good working condition.
  • Keep your windshield wiper blades fresh. Drivers are encouraged to change them every six months, especially before driving in severe weather.
  • Clear all snow and ice from the vehicle’s windows, roof, hood, trunk lid and any other covered areas. This will increase your visibility. Additionally, drivers around you won’t be blinded by snow blowing off your vehicle.
  • Use an ice scraper to remove snow and ice from your windshield and all windows, including side and rear windows. This will improve your ability to see other roadway users that may move into your path of travel.
  • Never warm up a vehicle in an enclosed area, such as a garage. AAA Texas said modern vehicles do not require idle time prior to driving them.
  • Make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. A blocked exhaust could cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running, AAA said.
  • Never leave your vehicle unattended with the engine running.
  • Keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
  • Know how old your tires are. As a tire ages, its rubber becomes hard and brittle, losing elasticity and strength. Therefore, the older a tire is, the higher the risk for it to bust or fail. AAA recommends replacing any tire that’s six years old or older.

While on the road:

  • Make sure your headlights are turned on.
  • Reduce your speed and leave plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the vehicle in front of you, AAA Texas said.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding.
  • Do not use cruise control on any wet, snow-covered, or icy roads.
  • Be aware of possible icy roads. Be very careful while driving on bridges and overpasses, which freeze sooner than roads. Even in temperatures above freezing, if conditions are wet, you can still encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
  • Be careful on infrequently traveled roads, which may not be cleared as often as other roads.
  • If you must pull off the road, wait for a safe opportunity and pull off as far as you can. It is best to pull into a rest area or parking lot rather than on the road’s shoulder.

When to brake and when to steer:

  • In slick conditions, sudden braking can lead to loss of vehicle control. When traveling more than 25 mph, AAA Texas recommends steering over braking to avoid a collision in winter-like conditions, as less distance is required to steer around an object than to brake to a stop.
  • Sometimes steering is not an option. Braking on slippery surfaces requires you to look further ahead and increase following and stopping distances. Plan stopping distances as early as possible and always look 20-30 seconds ahead of your vehicle to ensure you have time and space to stop safely, AAA said.

Stay in control through a skid:

  • When a vehicle begins to skid, it’s important not to panic.
  • Continue to look and steer in the direction you want your vehicle to go.
  • Avoid slamming on the brakes-- this will make it harder to control your vehicle.

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