Winter is a great season for vacations, offering wonderful opportunities for weekend getaways, downhill and cross-country skiing, and visiting friends and relatives during winter break. But winter travel can quickly become winter trauma if you are not prepared for the extra challenges of winter driving.
Winter weather can make road conditions unpredictable, and sometimes treacherous. The sight of snow is a stark reminder of Michigan’s unpredictable weather and the importance of staying alert, slowing down, and staying in control when taking to the roadways. While the City of Novi prides itself on quickly clearing the roadways and bridges of snow and ice during and after storms, the winter season does impose special conditions on motorists, their driving habits and their vehicles. Safe winter driving requires a balance of common sense and preparation.
The leading cause of death during winter storms is motor vehicle accidents. The best advice for driving in inclement weather is to not drive at all. If you can avoid it, stay put. But for those that must venture out in bad weather, one of the most important things to remember is to slow down. If you have to drive, drive slower and allow yourself extra time to reach your destination.
Allowing more distance to stop is another essential practice to adhere to. Motorists need to remember that even if you have a four-wheel or all-wheel drive vehicle that doesn’t translate to quicker stopping. In fact, because of their weight, large trucks and SUVs may require longer distance to stop than a car on ice or snow.
If you must travel through snow or icy conditions, also remember these important safety tips:
Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
Keep your lights and windshield clean.
Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
Don't use cruise control on icy roads.
Be especially careful on bridges and overpasses as these areas will typically freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways, such as bridges.
Don't pass snow plows and salt trucks. The drivers have limited visibility, and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
Prepare your vehicle for winter – check your tires, antifreeze, defroster, brakes, windshield wipers and windshield washer fluid.
Store emergency items in vehicle to include small tools, battery cables, matches, extra blankets, non-perishable food and water, extra gloves, socks and a first aid kit in case of an accident.
Now that you reviewed these winter driving tips and techniques, you’re ready to explore Michigan’s winter wonderland. Drive carefully and pay attention to other drivers; not everyone is as well-prepared for winter driving. If you have any questions or require further information, please do not hesitate to contact the Novi Police Department at 248-348-7100.