Driving in Snow and Ice: 5 Quick Tips

February 1, 2019

Averaging nearly two feet of snow per year, New Jersey gets its fair share of winter weather. That’s not to mention ice and sleet, arguably more problematic than snow.

As great of a job as our state and local snow crews do, it’s inevitable that the roads will be a mess during and after a winter storm. We know you have places to go, things to do and people to see even when it snows, so we’ll spare you the surefire safety tip of staying home. If you must be on the road in wintry conditions, drive like this:

1. Take it Slow
We hope we don’t have to convince you to slow down on icy roads. No matter what kind of car or truck you own, the faster you go, the longer it takes to stop. That simple equation is magnified in snow or ice, the latter of which you might not always see (aka black ice). Even if you feel comfortable going the normal speed, at least slow down for those around you. It’s common courtesy and expected. We’re New Jerseyans; we take care of each other.

2. Keep it Moving
The understated benefit in going slow is that you won’t need to stop as frequently. It’s much more difficult to accelerate from a complete stop on icy or snow-covered pavement, and the risk of skidding is real. Try to maintain an uninterrupted pace, even if it means coming to a crawl to let a light ahead turn green. And whatever you do, avoid stopping on a hill. Pick up momentum (albeit slow) as you approach the incline, and then climb at the needed speed until you’re past the top.

3. Don’t Overcompensate
Skidding on ice is scary—but if you’re driving slowly, there’s no need to panic. It’s not the initial skid that sends a car careening, but more so a panicked response by the driver. Instead of slamming on your brakes or trying to steer, keep your poise for a few seconds. If it’s a front-wheel skid, all you need to do is release the accelerator slowly and let the car come to a stop. If it’s a rear-wheel skid, you’ll want to turn the wheel slightly to the side that is skidding. Again, this is all assuming you’re driving slowly and cautiously.

4. Don’t Rely on Technology
Cars are equipped with phenomenal technology these days, from four-wheel and all-wheel drive to advanced driver assistance systems (ADAS) features such as blind spot monitor, lane assist and adaptive cruise control. But when the roads are dangerous, technology will only take you so far. You need to be hyper-aware of your surroundings and anticipate hazards, rather than simply reacting to them. Each safe driver makes everyone else on the road a little safer, too.

5. Maintain Your Vehicle
Above all, winter is an especially important time to keep your car in top shape. Have your tires checked, and consider snow tires. Make sure your lights are working properly. The windshield, windshield wipers, brakes, defroster, radiator…They all need to be in the best possible condition. You can’t control the weather, but you can control your car maintenance.

If you’re ever in a collision or have been holding off on repairs that you know you need, bring your vehicle directly to one of Compact Auto Body’s two NJ locations. Don’t worry, we’ll communicate with your insurer on your behalf. Just come on by and let us take care of the rest.