Winter Driving Tips

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Winter weather can create dangerous conditions. It only takes a small amount of snow or ice to create slick roads. Plan ahead and use extra caution when the roads are wet or snowy. The following tips can also help keep you, and others, safe while traveling during the winter months:

  • Follow Ames PD on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for updates on current conditions in Ames.
  • Overconfidence may be the biggest cause of accidents in winter weather.
    • Four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, traction control, and stability control equipped vehicles can make it easier to maintain control in poor conditions but assuming that your vehicle won't lose control can be a recipe for disaster.
    • Even if your winter driving skills are excellent others on the road may not be as skilled. Driving faster than other traffic could result in a dangerous situation if you need to stop quickly when someone else loses control.
  • Avoid travel unless absolutely necessary. 
  • Plan your route and check conditions before you leave. The Iowa 511 website and app (iPhone and Android) are great tools and allow you to see live video feeds along your route so you can see the conditions before you leave.
  • If traveling long distances check road conditions and weather reports along the route. 
  • Clear all windows completely so you are able to see, and react to, potential dangers or obstacles.
  • Slick conditions can make it difficult to react quickly. Slow down and increase distance between other vehicles.
  • Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Remember: it takes longer to slow down in poor conditions. 
  • If you begin to lose control look and steer in the direction you want to go.
  • Know your brakes. If you have anti-lock brakes push the pedal hard. The pedal will begin to vibrate when the ABS is activated. If you don't have anti-lock brakes short, quick pulses of the brake pedal will allow your tires to spin periodically to help gain traction. 
    • If you have anti-lock brakes you are more likely to be able to steer during braking. Be ready when your tires gain traction if your wheels are turned. 
  • Ensure that you vehicle is properly maintained. A breakdown can create a dangerous situation for you and others on the road. 
    • Check tire pressure before you leave.
    • Make sure your gas tank is at least half full at all times.
    • Make sure your wiper blades are in good shape and your windshield washer fluid is full. 
  • Do not use cruise control on wet or icy roads. 
  • If you have children, ensure that they are correctly secured in a child safety seat. Bulky winter coats can create a dangerous situation by creating extra space under the safety seat's harness. As a general rule, the harness should be as close to the child's body as possible and you shouldn't be able to pinch the material of the harness between your thumb and forefinger. 
  • Pack a cell phone, blankets, coat, hat, gloves, food, water, and any prescriptions in the event that you become stranded.
  • If you are stranded in conditions when visibility is poor stay in your vehicle. It provides temporary shelter and protection from the elements and other vehicles. Walking in a severe storm is dangerous because you may not be visible others may not be able to maneuver away from you.
  • For more tips and in-depth information AAA has provided a full guide to driving on ice and snow. You can download it here

We hope these tips help keep you safe this winter. Remember to travel SMART! 

 Share the road

 Make yourself visible

 Always be aware

 Respect each other

 Take your time


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