Drive safe! Winter safety tips for tackling the road

We all can agree, Yoopers are used to treacherous winters.

Although we may be winter weary, we are bearing the brunt of yet another severe winter storm — an enormous system that’s expected to cover the entire Upper Peninsula with snow over the next few days.

So what can you do if you absolutely have to drive when the weather is bad and roads are slick, snow-covered and downright dangerous? Here are some winter driving tips from Bridgestone Winter Driving School , ABC News, Good Morning America, and the National Weather Service.

Safe Driving Tips

Avoid the Phantom Shoulder: When a road grader or truck plows, it pushes snow to one side of the road. That snow can often appear to be an extension of the road – like a very wide shoulder – but often it’s is just covering a ditch or drop-off, Cox said. If you get a wheel in that ditch, your car could go off the road.

If you have to pull over, slow down first and ease over slowly. If you start to feel the car sinking, you can pull away, Cox said.

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Use Your Headlights All the Time: It’s important to use your headlights in the daytime, not so much so that you can see, but so that other cars can see you, especially in periods of low visibility, Cox said.

The rule of thumb is that anytime you need to turn your wipers on, you should turn your lights on as well, he noted.

Sunglasses in Winter?: Snow can be really bright. Wearing sunglasses in low visibility conditions can help with your depth perception, allowing you to see the rises and dips that may not appear to the naked eye, Cox said. He advised investing in a pair of sunglasses with yellow or amber lens.

Batteries Can Take a Beating : Severe cold can drain a battery of 40 percent of its cranking power, Cox said. It’s important to have jumper cables and know how to use them.

Other Essential Winter Driving Tips

Here are some other winter driving tips from the Bridgestone Winter Driving School.

Use winter tires for winter. All-season tires won’t get the same traction in winter as winter tires will.

Service your cars before bad weather begins, making sure the braking, suspension, charging and cooling systems are in good order.

Make sure your exhaust system is free of leaks. Carbon monoxide is a silent killer.

Be sure to clean the snow from your car before you start driving. Flying snow and ice can be hazardous to other motorists. Ensure headlights and taillights are clean so other drivers can see you.

Test road conditions frequently when you are driving in bad weather so you’ll know how much traction is available.

Is your battery working properly? Have it tested before winter arrives.

Replace your wiper blades.

If ice and snow have accumulated in the wheel wells of your car, it could affect the control of your vehicle. To prevent snow build-up, spray the wheel wells with silicone.

Carry winter clothes – including boots, gloves and hats, food, a cell phone charger, blanket or sleeping bag, tow strap, flashlight, jumper cables and other essential safety gear in your car on every trip. Don’t ever assume your time on the road will be uneventful. You could get stuck in snow or in traffic for extended periods and you may need these items to survive.

Not all brakes are the same. In emergency braking situations, the driver can pump regular (non anti- lock brakes) to stop — but must release the brakes in order to steer. Anti-lock brakes allow the driver to press and hold the pedal. The car’s computer will continue pumping the brakes, while allowing the driver control over steering.

Don’t follow the car in front of your own too closely. Stopping on ice and snow require four to 10 times more distance than stopping on dry pavement.

If your rear wheels spin and the car starts to skid, it is oversteering. Don’t stomp the brake pedal. Steer into the direction of the skid and accelerate smoothly. In rear-wheel drive vehicles, steer into the skid and don’t accelerate until you regain your grip on the road.

If you car won’t turn into a curve and the front wheels are skidding, the vehicle is understeering. Hitting the brake in a panic will make it much worse. Take your foot off the accelerator and adjust your steering wheel slightly, letting the front wheels regain grip. When grip and steering are fully restored, you can steer smoothly back into the curve. This may go against your natural instinct but it’s the only way to correct an understeer.

General Winter Weather Tips

Please use caution and be aware of hazardous driving conditions. Roads will be snow covered and dangerous. People are encouraged to use discretion and not go out unless it is absolutely necessary. Traffic lights may be out and roads will be congested.

During snow storm conditions, snow plows are considered emergency vehicles and should be given the right of way. Listen to the weather reports, plan accordingly.

Plan alternate routes to prevent traffic jams.

Exercise caution when driving; Drive as the road dictates. Slow and steady is the name of the game.

Have an emergency supply kit in the vehicle: A fully charged mobile phone, charger, spare batteries, blanket/sleeping bags, extra food and water are essential.

Keep the gas tank as full as possible. If stranded, run the car periodically to preserve fuel, stay with the car, do not wander away.

Make sure someone knows your route and timetable.

Have a disaster kit ready.

Major concerns for individuals are loss of heat, power, and telephone service. Individuals and families should have food and water, flashlights and batteries, first aid supplies and a battery operated radio in their disaster kit.

Emergency 911 phone system should be limited to life-threatening situations only.

Prepare your home for a power outage. If you have to leave your home and seek shelter, remember to bring your medications and sleeping gear such as blankets and sleeping bags. Most of these items will not be provided by the shelter or will be in short supply.

Winter Storm Tips

Identify the most insulated room in advance. That’s where you and your family can gather if you need to stay warm.

Turn your thermostat to low and turn off the circuit breaker for your water heater to reduce high demand for electricity once the power comes back on.

Turn off and unplug all unnecessary electrical equipment, including sensitive electronics. This will help prevent an overload that can cause it to go off again.

Leave one light switch on so you’ll know when electricity has been restored.

Do not touch any electrical power lines and keep your family away from them.

The primary hazards to avoid when using alternate sources for electricity, heating or cooking are carbon monoxide poisoning, electric shock and fire.

If the carbon monoxide alarm sounds, move quickly to a fresh air location outdoors or by an open window or door. Remember that carbon monoxide kills.

CLICK HERE to visit the National Weather Service’s website.