Estimated Time to Read: 3 minutes

When it comes to all things auto, winter tends to get the most attention of all the seasons and with good reason. With it, comes the nastiest weather that is not only unpleasant in a variety of ways, but makes the roads much more dangerous. When operating your vehicle in harsh winter conditions, there are some things to keep in mind to keep you as safe as possible and minimize the risk of an accident as best you can.

Check Your Tires

Keeping your tires inflated to the proper pressure for your vehicle is key to keeping you safe on the roads during the winter. Cold air can reduce pressure, which increases the risk of flats and other dangerous occurrences. Your tires should also have enough tread. One way to check this is to stick a nickel into the tread

Drive at a Safe Speed

Driving at a safe speed during bad weather is so obvious it does not seem to need mentioning, but you want to make sure you know what that safe speed is. When the weather is bad, you should reduce your speed by about 50 percent of the posted speed limit. You also want to make sure you are not driving too slowly either; you need enough momentum to pass through snow grades. Make sure to slow down even more when you approach bridges and overpasses as these surfaces tend to freeze more quickly than the roads that lead onto them.

Do Not Use Cruise Control

Even if the roads seem free and clear, avoid using cruise control during periods when there has been snow and ice. Slippery patches can appear anywhere and even the minimal pressure you apply to your brakes to deactivate this feature can cause you to lose control of your car if you hit an icy patch.

Use Extra Caution with Exit Ramps

While most major roads get thorough attention with anti-icing materials, exit ramps may not always be tended to as well. Use extra caution when turning off exit ramps in the event they are not as clear as the main road.

Learn How to Correct Skidding

Skidding can be scary; the feeling of not being in control of your car can lead to panic, but knowing how to correct it can help keep you calmer and actually apply the correction. When you find yourself skidding, take your foot off the gas and steer the car in the direction you want to front wheels to go if your rear wheels are skidding. If your front wheels are skidding, take your foot off the gas and shift the car to neutral; the car will begin to gain traction and as this happens, steer in the direction you want the car to go.

Handling Icy Roads

Besides driving at a slower speed, you also want to take some other precautions when driving on ice-covered roads.  There should be at least three times the space between you and the car in front of you than you are normally supposed to leave. Make sure your lights and windshield are always clean. Brake gently.

Kelli Cooper is a freelance writer who has covered a range of automotive topics. She particularly enjoys sharing tips on how to keep your car in good working order and how to drive safely.  If you are located in the Baltimore area, check out MINI Baltimore for a great selection vehicles.