1. Preparation is more important now than ever

Nobody wants to break down and get stuck on the side of the road in any condition, but if this happens to you in the winter, then you’ve been double-struck. Waiting in the cold for help is miserable and lengthy since response times can be slower in the winter. Take steps to avoid this disaster by keeping your vehicle’s fluids full (especially with 50/50 mixture of antifreeze), tires properly inflated, windshield wipers in good condition, and engine serviced. Still, accidents happen and should you get stuck, make sure you have a roadside emergency kit that’s especially stocked for winter.

2. Precision driving can save the day

Safe driving should be practiced year-round, but in the winter it’s doubly important due to the dangers of snow and ice. You should drive slower than you normally would on dry pavement. Keep extra space between you and the car in front of you. When accelerating, you have to ease the gas pedal slowly and with control. Plant your heel firmly on the floor under the pedal to help provide stability.

Don’t stop while going up hills, and if possible, keep your car moving at all times until you’ve reached your destination. When you’re at a stoplight or a standstill in traffic, you’ll be better able to continue driving if your car is rolling, even just a little bit. The smallest amount of inertia helps you accelerate safely on icy, snowy roads. There’s a balance to this though, you don’t want to break any traffic laws while trying to keep your vehicle rolling, so if it’s necessary to make a full stop then you need to make a full stop.

3. Braking requires excellent control

Slamming your brakes if you lose control on icy pavement won’t help you slow down or regain control. It’s best to ease off the accelerator and let the momentum of your tires gain traction. Lightly tap your brakes in brief, repetitive motions if necessary, but if you’re observing wise driving speeds and ample space between you and the driver in front of you, you should be able to slow down safely and regain control. Nothing is guaranteed, but this is considered a safer option than slamming on your brakes, which only causes your vehicle to slide more wildly.

4. Don’t park unless your vehicle is ready to be parked

Parking in frigid weather isn’t the problem, starting your car back up is. Make sure your gas tank is at least halfway filled before you park, so the gas lines are less likely to freeze. When you do park, if possible, avoid using your parking brake because it can get stuck if it’s too cold. Find parking spots that are less icy or packed with snow, even if you have to park a little further from the entrance of your destination. Carry sand, salt, or cat litter in your car to use as traction to help you get out of a difficult parking spot.

Driving in the winter is challenging, but it doesn’t have to be scary. Pay attention to these important safety steps to reduce your risk of getting left out in the cold. You may be the safest driver in the world, but, unfortunately, someone else around you might be more careless. You never know when an accident might happen, so be prepared to handle emergencies, contact authorities, and connect with a reliable towing service.