How To: Drive in Freezing Rain

How To: Drive in Freezing Rain

With winter on it’s way in eastern Maine, you can expect some storms that have a snow and freezing rain mixture.  Make sure to stay safe in these dangerous conditions with these tips.

If you don’t absolutely need to drive, stay home!
While this is easier said than done, avoid going out for extra trips if you can.  Even if you feel safe and confident in your driving skills, in the words of a parent: “It’s not you, it’s everyone else on the road.”

If you do drive, be extremely cautious and leave extra time.
Go slow and avoid heavy braking, which could cause you to skid and lose control of your vehicle.  Make sure to leave extra time to get where you’re going so you can drive at a safe speed without feeling stressed.

Keep a safe distance.
We all know this rule, but don’t always practice it.  In icy conditions, it’s extremely important to have the space between you and the car in front of you.  If you have more room, you can ease off the gas to slow down instead of braking, which can be safer, but requires more distance between vehicles.

Make sure your car is ready.
Check the condition of your wipers.  Visibility tends to be the worst in icy conditions, so you want your wipers to be in the best possible condition.  If they streak, skip or have patches you can’t see through, consider having them replaced now.  Winter wipers are a good choice if you need new ones – they have rubber coverings that keep ice from collecting on the blade.  If you haven’t yet installed your snow tires, make an appointment!  Better grip and tread can help in snowy and icy conditions.

If you do slide, don’t hit the brakes.
If you do end up sliding, don’t jam on the brakes, even though your instincts may tell you to.  When you apply brakes to an already sliding vehicle, you can lose even more control and not be able to correct it until your vehicle comes to a complete stop.

Be prepared for an emergency.
In all winter conditions, it’s a good idea to make sure you have a full tank of gas before you go.  If you need to sit stopped or end up going off the road and need to stay warm, you don’t want to have to worry about running out of gas.  Consider carrying other items that would be useful in an emergency, like an ice scraper, First Aid kit, flashlight, jumper cables, shovel, a bag of sand, blanket and gloves.  If you have a cell phone, make sure it has a charge, or get a car charger.  It’s always easier to have the items and never need them, than to need them and wish you did.