As we enter the coldest month of the year, it’s a good reminder that the journey is just as important as the destination. When you’ve got someplace to be, you have every reason to get there safely. That’s why we’ve come up with five winter driving tips to help you hit the road.
Checkoff Your Checklist
Preparation is key to a successful winter trip. Take the time to ensure your vehicle is ready to face South Dakota’s winter roads. Test your car’s battery, measure your tire pressure, test those brakes, check your fluids, fill up with gas and make sure your headlights work. It’s like giving your car a warm-up stretch before kickoff.
It shouldn’t be a surprise that South Dakota weather is erratic. Stay up to date on the weather by keeping an eye on the forecast and current road conditions. Things can change quickly, so check the weather often. And when no travel is advised or roads are closed, listen. It’s also smart to share your itinerary with someone else, so they know when to expect you and can send help if needed.
Clear the Snow and Ice
Before hitting the road, take the time to clear snow and ice from your vehicle. This includes your headlights, taillights and the roof. Snow and ice flying off your car can be hazardous to you and other drivers. And don’t be afraid to pack a small shovel along with your ice scraper — you might just need it down the road.
Brake with Caution
Be gentle on the brakes. Abrupt or sudden braking can lead to sliding on icy roads. If your vehicle is equipped with anti-lock brakes, apply steady pressure and let the system do its thing. If not, pump the brakes gently to prevent a lockup.
Don’t Crowd the Plow
Whether you’re driving in town or on the highway, make sure you give the plows some space. Snowplows play a crucial role in keeping roads clear, but they need space to do their job. Stay a safe distance behind snowplows, and never try to pass them. The road conditions in front of a plow are likely worse than those behind it.