SALT LAKE CITY, Utah (ABC4) — Our state is seeing a noticeable uptick in amounts of snow this season, with an even more noticeable effect on road conditions. While many Utahns like to believe they know best when driving during or after a snowstorm, the reality is that many of us are less prepared than we realize.
To ensure everyone makes it to their destination safely this winter, we’ve compiled a list of expert tips to have down before hitting the roads around Utah.
1. Properly clear off your car
Often overlooked before any winter commute — clearing cars can be critical to keeping other cars visible on the roads. To prepare your vehicle, make sure the snow is removed from the hood, roof, and trunk, then check that ice is cleared from headlights and taillights.
Taking just a few minutes to clear your vehicle off completely can make all the difference in overall safety while driving.
2. Watch out for frozen bridges
Because they have no insulation from frigid temperatures and are near bodies of water, the chances of ice on bridges are much higher than on roadways. If you’re seeing wet roads, it’s not uncommon for bridges to freeze over.
Use caution when driving over them and watch for other cars to do the same.
3. Manage the skids
Feeling your vehicle begin to skid in rough conditions can be a heart-stopping experience. Knowing how to react can prevent accidents from happening and keep you safe on winter roads.
When you notice your tires start to skid, ease off the gas (don’t slam on your brakes) and turn in the direction the rear of your car is going.
4. Allow more braking room
Stay under the speed limit and increase your following distance to a minimum of 5 to 10 seconds (as opposed to the 2-second rule during clear conditions). That distance becomes even more important when commuting around semi-trucks.
With roads covered in snow and ice, this allows all drivers more time to react and vehicles more space to avoid collisions.
5. Be prepared for cold weather
As single-digit temps are to be expected some nights, wearing the right layers of clothing and keeping extras close by can make or break any wintertime commute.
Also, packing an emergency kit with essential items like blankets, wiper fluid, a portable shovel, snacks, and even jumper cables will save you in a pinch.
6. Avoid using cruise control
Cruise control is great in dry conditions — but not when the weather conditions are poor. When your car travels at a specific speed with cruise control, it can actually accelerate as you lose traction.
Stay in control by driving manually, without cruise control, and being aware of your speed in relation to cars around you.
7. Stay home
Utah roads are undoubtedly more dangerous when wet, snowy, or icy conditions are present. Unless your trip is essential, staying safe can sometimes mean staying home and off the roads.
According to Alana Brophy, Chief Meteorologist with ABC4 Utah: “It’s important to know that conditions can change quickly, especially with early or late season storms, so you should always check the forecast before you hit the road.”
Experience is a MUST
While it’s important to know the fundamentals of driving Utah’s winter roads, it’s just as important to put them into practice. As your experience builds, so too will your confidence when the weather turns ugly.
Visit the Utah Department of Public Safety online for more tips and information on safe driving during inclement weather conditions.