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Driving Tips for Snowy Weather

With an increasing chance of snow this week, here's how to avoid skidding and slipping while driving around Vienna in the snow.

While slip-sliding cars on snowy roads can make for interesting (cringe-inducing) YouTube videos, you never want to be driving one of those cars.

Here in Vienna, drivers have come to expect almost the entirety of Maple Avenue will be a mess. Lawyers Road also poses some issues, usually around its intersection with Hunter Mill Road. (What other areas do you think are tricky in winter? Tell us in the comments.)

Here are tips on how to drive safely on snowy and icy roads:

Have an emergency kit and good supplies. In the winter months, AAA recommends that you keep the following items in your vehicle:

  • A bag of abrasive material like sand, salt or kitty litter to sprinkle under your tires if you get stuck.
  • A small snow shovel.
  • An ice scraper.
  • Windshield washer fluid.
  • Jumper cables.
  • Extra-warm items like blankets, hats and gloves.
  • Water and snack food.
  • First aid kit.

Plan your route. If your normal route to the store or work involves curvy, windy roads and sidestreets, you may want to change your route if possible to use more main roads that are flat and straight. 

Leave room. It can take a driver twice as long (and twice as much space) to stop a vehicle when driving in snow versus driving on dry pavement. You should leave twice as much room as you normally would between you and other vehicles on the road.

Slow down. Driving too quickly for the conditions is the biggest cause of snow crashes, according to Edmunds.com.

Don’t slam on your brakes. If you’re sliding on a patch of ice, hitting the brakes harder won’t stop you. Learn more about how to safely brake in snow and how to exit a skid here.

Leave the plows plenty of room! If you see snowplows clearing the roads, don't make any aggressive moves to go around them and leave more room than usual when you're following them. Same goes for trucks that may be spreading liquid or solid deicers. 

Or, don’t drive. If you can avoid driving in when roads are covered in snow or ice, that’s probably your safest bet. Walk when it is safe to do so.

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