There’s only one way to drive safely during a big winter storm: slowly and cautiously. Timnath residents know very well that the roads can turn from worry-free to extremely dangerous in just a couple of hours. With this in mind, important to know how to safely navigate snowy roads during the winter.

During any time of the year, your safety is paramount. However, there’s no doubt that winter (and parts of fall and spring) brings the most treacherous driving conditions. Here are five essential winter weather driving tips for Timnath residents:

#1: Brake Slowly and Give Yourself More Distance

Slippery roads mean that it will take you longer to come to a stop. To be a safe winter driver, you’ll want to give yourself at least twice the distance you’d normally give between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you. In intense, blizzard-like conditions, giving yourself even more distance is strongly recommended.

Remember not to slam your brakes if you need to suddenly stop – you’ll likely lock up your brakes or slide on the road with no traction. Instead, pump your brakes.

#2: Know That It’ll Take Longer to Reach Your Destination

One of the core aspects of safe winter driving is planning ahead. It’s incredibly important to give yourself plenty of time to reach your destination, more time than you would otherwise need during normal driving conditions.

This way, you won’t be in a rush and you can drive relaxed and slowly knowing that you won’t be late…and that you’ll show up in one piece!

#3: Don’t Warm Your Vehicle in An Enclosed Area

Driving off to work while enduring bone-chilling temperatures is never pleasant, but most people start their engines and let the heat run for a few minutes before departing. This is completely fine (driving with a completely cold engine isn’t great for your vehicle), but make sure not to do this in an enclosed area such as a garage or shed.

While this tip sounds like a no-brainer, it’s easy to overlook when you’re tired and just starting your day.

#4: Consider Investing in Snow Tires

Yes, snow tires are a costly investment and you’ll only use them for about a third of the year. But, there’s a reason people use snow tires: they provide significantly more traction and stopping power on snowy roads.

An important distinction to make is between all-wheel drive (AWD), or four-wheel drive (4WD) and snow tires. AWD or 4WD will help you gain traction to start from a stop, but the drivetrain alone won’t help you come to a stop when it’s slick outside.

Believe it or not, a 2WD car equipped with good snow tires will consistently outperform a 4WD or AWD truck or SUV equipped with all-season or summer tires.

For even more traction, make sure that your tires are properly inflated.

#5: Stock Your Vehicle with Basic Survival Items

Driving in inclement winter weather could result in sliding into a ditch, getting stuck or dealing with a dead battery. In the event that you call a tow truck or a friend for assistance, it could also take them a while to arrive.

This is why, especially during longer trips, it’s important to stock your vehicle with several basic survival items. Consider carrying these in your car:

  • Jumper cables
  • Snow brush/ice scraper
  • Sleeping bag or blankets
  • Warm, dry clothes
  • Non-perishable food and ample drinking water
  • First-aid kit
  • Emergency flares or LED lights

In severe cases, you could be waiting in your car for multiple hours or even overnight. Make sure that you’re prepared to make your stay relatively comfortable.