The do’s and don’ts of driving in winter weather

Slow down if you have to drive during wintry conditions
Central Virginia doesn't get massive amounts of winter weather, but when the snow and ice arrive, it can catch a lot of drivers off guard.
Published: Dec. 7, 2022 at 3:56 PM EST|Updated: Dec. 7, 2022 at 4:13 PM EST
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RICHMOND, Va. (WWBT) - Central Virginia doesn’t get a tremendous amount of winter weather, but when bad weather strikes, it can catch a lot of people off guard on the roads.

Even though we’re expecting another La Niña pattern, which typically means a warmer winter here, we can’t let our guard down as temperatures drop.

“Most people don’t have their car really prepared for winter weather in the morning,” said Sgt. William Rosser, with the Chesterfield County Police Department. “And when they come out and there’s a lot of snow or a lot of ice and everything’s frosted up, they tend to want to leave quicker than they should.”

One of the biggest mistakes, no matter what time of day, is driving way too fast for the conditions. In winter weather, you should triple your driving distance between the vehicle in front of you so that you can stop effectively. Or else your car will slide.

“What people generally do is they overcorrect the opposite direction to correct the skid, or they want to apply the brakes, which is the two biggest no-no’s with driving a vehicle,” said Rosser. “One, you want to stay off the brakes and you don’t want to overcorrect. You want to put enough steering input to correct the skid is all your kind of looking for braking in general.”

When temperatures go below freezing, stay alert for black ice too. The roads may look okay, but bridges freeze before the road. Also, be alert for areas in the shade that are wet, they may be icy. If the temperature is at or below freezing, it is safe to assume that icy spots will be possible.

According to the National Weather Service, on average, weather-related vehicle crashes kill 6,253 people nationwide and injure more than 480,000 people each year.

Before you head out on the roadways, clear the snow and ice from your vehicle’s roof, hood and trunk. Don’t forget the mirrors and lights. Also, remember to turn your headlights on during any winter weather or rain.

If you must be out on the roads during wintry weather, slow down. But the best advice just stay home and wait until the roads are clear and safe to travel.

Have an emergency winter weather kit in your car to be prepared, especially during the winter months. Make sure your gas tank is full. A few important items to consider as you put together your weather kit: a windshield scraper, jumper cables, flashlight, cell phone, cell phone charger, blankets, additional warm clothing, drinking water, and non-perishable food.