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February 13, 2007
Handling And Braking In Snow

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Jim Rink (313) 336-1513


Cold and snow can affect your car's handling and braking ability. Slow down, keep your distance and increase the chances you'll arrive at your destination safely.

AAA has the following winter-driving suggestions:

  • Slow down in bad weather. Remember, posted speed limits are set for ideal road and weather conditions.
     
  • Increase your following distance. Build in a six-second time gap. Pick a marker or sign and begin counting when the car ahead passes it — "one-thousand-one, one-thousand-two..."
     
  • Exercise caution. Ice is most likely to form first and be slipperiest in shaded areas, bridges, overpasses and intersections.
     
  • Improve visibility. Clear snow and ice from the entire car. Brush away snow from the hood, roof, trunk, turn signals, lights, windows, mirrors, and fender wells.
     
  • Drive with headlights on low-beam. Lights at low-beam provide better road illumination in snow and fog than do high-beams.
     
  • Avoid sudden starts, stops and turns. Accelerate carefully so car wheels don't spin.
     
  • Apply brakes firmly. The best technique for braking on ice or snow is "threshold" or "squeeze" braking. Apply brakes firmly to a point just short of lock-up and ease off the brake pedal slightly.
     
  • Steady pressure is better than "pumping" the brakes. For anti-lock brakes, continuous firm braking is recommended. Refer to your owner's manual for proper procedure.
     
  • In a skid, ease off the accelerator. Carefully steer in the direction you want the car to go and straighten the wheel as soon as the car begins to go in the desired direction.
     
  • Anticipate danger. Be on the lookout for ice on bridges, snow-covered lane markings, stalled cars and poor visibility. Watch for drivers who are unprepared for changing road conditions.


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