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DDA Severe Weather Tips

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DDA Snow/Ice Defensive Driving Tips and Techniques

Best advice - Don’t drive at all, at least until the snow plows have had a chance to clear the roads, and please allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. Let someone know where you are going and when you plan to arrive.

Assume the Worst – Buckle up and stay as far away from other vehicles as possible. The first ingredient if you want to make a crash is closeness. Regardless of how well you drive or how good your vehicle technology is, there are always others who are not defensive, and some winter conditions that can't ever be conquered.

Fill up—The weight of a full tank alone helps with traction and if you're stuck in traffic, you will use about a half gallon of gas per hour just idling. Bring your cell charger too - just in case.

Don't take short cuts in winter—Stay on the main roads. Back roads may not be plowed or patrolled, and if you get stuck, you may be out there a long time.

Increase your following distance!!! A bigger space cushion = more reaction time = lighter braking = less sliding. If you can read just 1 letter or number on the license plate of the vehicle in front of you, you are vulnerable.

Keep your heel planted - If your heel lifts while braking, harsh stopping will cause your wheels to lock up, and when they lock - you slide!!!

Make sure you can see - Replace windshield wiper blades and make sure your windshield washer system works and is full of an anti-icing fluid.

Please clear snow and ice from the top of your vehicle before you drive - It's the law now in PA and many other states now as well.

DDA’s golden ruleDownhill is the enemy!!  Avoid any and all routes that include any type of really steep downhill roads.  Drivers don’t crash as much going uphill – most severe weather crashes happen thanks to good old fashioned gravity. If you have to come down a hill, use 1st gear (L) and keep that speedometer at 10mph or less with light even braking. The lighter you brake, the less likely you are to slide, and slower speeds are the only way to achieve this.

Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads - which will freeze first. Even at temperatures slightly above freezing, if the conditions are wet or look wet, you might still encounter “Black Ice” which looks like a harmless, shiny puddle in shady or low lying areas, and when you see a patch, don't panic and press the brake, just roll over it.

Know the difference between standard brakes and ABS brakes - When using ABS, press the brake and hold it - do not release. With standard brakes, use threshold braking: pump the brake pedal lightly and if the wheels begin to lock, then release just enough pressure to get them rolling again. Turning the steering wheel the way you’re sliding until back on track is helpful, but defensive drivers are taught to anticipate and never allow the vehicle to get up to a speed that will cause this. Higher speeds = harder braking = sliding on snow.

Remember that 4WD - is great for getting up a hill, but downhill roads are what cause most crashes, so learn how to down-shift using the gears 1 (L) and 2. Practice how and when to downshift prior to leaving, and especially before starting down even a gradual hill. If you never learned how and when to downshift, contact DDA and we can set up a lesson to make you an expert!

Your phone is a camera – Use it to take pictures if you're involved in a fender bender and it can save you hundreds of dollars in repair costs.

Do not use cruise control - You need to be ready and cover the brake often, and cruise control counteracts this anticipation-minded way of thinking

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IF YOU GET STUCK generally, the best thing is to stay in your vehicle and keep warm while you wait for help, however, remember to...

Be careful about carbon monoxide, so check your exhaust pipe. Clear away snow, ice, or anything that might be blocking it, then quickly get back into your vehicle. Also, remember to crack or roll down windows every so often to let some fresh air in.

Turn your steering wheel from side to side a few times and then straighten to regain traction.

Shift from forward to reverse, and back again a few times. Each time you do, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets going.

Do not spin your wheels for more than a few seconds. This will only damage your transmission.

Use a light touch on the gas pedal and 1st (L) gear to maximize traction uphill.

Pack a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the vehicle.

Pack sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt and spread in the path of the wheels to help regain traction. Plus, any additional weight in your vehicle (full gas tank, passengers, etc.) helps with traction.

Roadside assistance - Most people don't even realize that they probably carry a credit card with benefits that allows for free towing at least once or twice a year.

Be Safe and Warm,
~Your friends at DDA Inc.


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