Tips for Driving Safely in Icy Conditions

Of all the bad weather Iowa can throw at drivers, perhaps the most dreaded are snow and ice. Whether you’re a new driver or an experienced one, poor weather conditions can test your nerves and skills on the road. Studies show that nearly one-quarter of weather-related vehicle crashes occur in snowy, slushy or icy conditions. (U.S. Department of Transportation, Federal Highway Admistration)

We know the days of these white knuckle drives are inevitable, so it is our goal at LOF-Xpress™ to ensure that you are informed and your vehicle is ready for any adverse road conditions our Iowa winter might throw at us. Follow these tips and techniques to increase your odds of arriving at your destination (and back home!) safely.

  1. First and foremost, our best LOF-Xpress™ tip is to ONLY DRIVE WHEN NECESSARY. It may seem like a no-brainer, but if the roads are ice covered, it is important to assess whether your outing is important enough to risk harm to yourself, your vehicle, or others and their vehicles. If and when driving can’t be avoided, begin by being prepared! Make sure your Winter Emergency Car Kit is fully stocked and ready for use, your gas tank is at least half full, and all snow and ice has been removed from your vehicle – including headlights. It is important to remain visible at all times.
  2. Keep your distance! Braking on slippery surfaces requires more time, so increase the space between you and the car ahead. The recommended following distance on dry roads is 3-4 seconds. This should be increased to 8-10 seconds on the snow or ice. After all, you never know when a slide will occur and the risk of losing control of your vehicle is just too great.
  3. Speaking of braking – be sure to brake gently to avoid sliding or spinning out. If you feel your brakes locking up, ease up on the brake. If your ABS brakes want to keep hurdling you forward, tap them lightly until you come to a stop.
  4. Don’t use cruise control when roads could be icy. You should have as much control over your vehicle as possible.
  5. Just because your vehicle is four-wheel or front-wheel drive does not mean it’s immune to bad weather. You must be cautious no matter what kind of car, truck or SUV you might be driving.
  6. Watch for ice on bridges.You’ve seen the sign, right?  Well, it’s there for a reason.  Bridges and low traffic roads freeze first, making them especially dangerous. Use extra caution when driving in these areas, or do your best to avoid them all together!
  7. And while we’re on the subject of hills, we recommend using low gears for better traction on inclines.
  8. Reduce your speed. Adjust to changing conditions and allow extra time to reach your destination. Some drivers are much more scared than you (it’s true!) and they may be moving along at a snail’s pace.  That’s a good thing, though….the slower you’re going, the less likely you’ll be injured if you do happen to get into an accident.
  9. Just like the signs say, STAY BACK, STAY ALIVE! Never pass a snow plow or sand truck. It can be difficult for the drivers to see you and the road conditions will be worse in front of the truck than they are behind.
  10. Finally, stay focused, alert, and aware. Be attentive to what is going on around you. Actions by other vehicles may alert you to problems more quickly or give you time to react safely.

Driving on ice and snow can be challenging, but it is possible to be a safe and prepared driver, despite winter’s less than optimal driving conditions. If you have any questions as to whether you or your car are ready for winter driving, take it to our techs at LOF-Xpress™! We’re here and committed to making sure you travel safely in all weather conditions!