Highway Patrol offers winter driving tips

  • Tuesday, February 11, 2014

The S.C. Highway Patrol will be constantly monitoring roadways for icing and will have additional resources in place for the projected storm.

SCHP is in contact with several state agencies and SCDOT so they can treat the areas that may require attention.

Please use caution on bridges, overpasses and shaded areas for icing (black ice). Monitor your local media for updates and go to SCDPS.gov for more information.



Listed below are some helpful winter weather driving tips:

• Slow speed: Slow down for wet, snowy, or icy conditions. You will be more likely to maintain control of your vehicle at lower speeds. Slow down when approaching intersections, off-ramps, bridges or shady spots. These are all candidates for developing black ice — a thin coating of clear ice that can form on the pavement surface that may be difficult to see.

• Following distance: Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.

• Braking: Use your brakes carefully. Brake early, brake slowly, brake correctly, and never slam on the brakes. Braking gently will help you avoid skidding. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal to avoid wheel lock-up.

• Abrupt maneuvers: Avoid excessive actions while steering, braking or accelerating to lessen the chances of losing control of the vehicle. When you’re driving on snow, ice or wet roads, avoid abrupt steering maneuvers.

• Vehicles: Don’t assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads. If your vehicle is equipped with Electronic-Stability Control (ESC) make sure it’s turned on. ESC will assist you in maintaining control of your vehicle if it loses traction. Keep your lights and windshield clean and Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.

• Road conditions: Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges. Be aware that road conditions are always changing.

• Stay alert: When driving in adverse road conditions, look farther ahead in traffic than you normally do. Actions by other vehicles will alert you to problems more quickly, and give you that split-second of extra time to react safely.

• Cruise control: Avoid using cruise control in winter driving conditions. You need to be in control of your speed based on road conditions — don’t let the cruise control make a bad decision for you.



If your vehicle starts to skid you should:

• Take your foot off the accelerator.

• Counter steer and if the rear of your vehicle is sliding left, steer left into the skid. If it’s sliding right, steer right. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

• If you have standard brakes, then pump them gently.

• If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse -- this is normal.

If you get stuck:

• Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.

• Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.

• Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.

• Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.

• Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.

• Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner’s manual first -- it can damage the transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again. Each time you’re in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.



Be Prepared

Before you head out, make sure you have cleared the snow off your vehicle’s lights, windows, turn signals and brake lights. SCHP advises you to make sure you can see and be seen.

When traveling in wintry conditions make sure you give yourself extra time to reach your destination safely.

Winter conditions can be taxing on your vehicle. Check your vehicle’s tires, brakes, fluids, wiper blades, lights, belts, and hoses to make sure they‘re in good condition before the start of the winter season. Dress appropriately and carry a blanket in the trunk in case you are stranded. A breakdown is bad on a good day, and can be dangerous on a bad-weather day.

The SC Highway Patrol wants you to be prepared, so before leaving home find about current driving conditions. Also keep watching your local news stations or state agency websites such as SCDPS.gov and SCEMD.org for updates.

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