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It’s that time of the year again when the world turns into a snowy paradise, and the streets turn into a skating rink. People know to be cautious when road conditions worsen, but many don’t know some of the finer points of driving in snow and ice. We’re happy to act as your guardian snow angel with a few ideas on how to stay safe this season.

Driving Tips:

• Slow down and drive smoothly. The largest cause of accidents in winter conditions is driving too quickly. Regardless of what kind of vehicle you drive, snow and ice make roads unpredictable, so take it easy.

• Avoid quick acceleration and braking and unnecessary lane changes. They can cause you to loose traction and put your car into a skid.

Four-wheel drive helps on slushy surfaces, but it does nothing on slippery, icy roads. It’s definitely a helpful feature, but you still need to drive cautiously.

• Don’t use cruise control. If you do happen to go into a skid, a vehicle in cruise control may speed up to maintain the preset MPH and end up doing more harm than good.

• Don’t tailgate. This is a good rule for driving in any conditions, but the danger only increases in bad weather. One quick stop could leave the front of your car in someone else’s fender, so stay patient and leave a safe distance.

• Increase your following distance to 8 to 10 seconds. A good rule of thumb on dry pavement is to stay 3 to 4 seconds behind the vehicle in front of you. That distance should be doubled when the roads get bad.

• Don’t power up hills. Putting your foot on the gas only spins the wheels and causes skidding. Try to get a little momentum before you reach the incline and then maintain your speed as you go.

• Stay home if you have to. If conditions are really dicey and you can stay in, do it. Better safe than sorry is a saying for a reason.

Knowledge is the best defense against accidents this time of year. When roads get bad, it’s good to know exactly how to behave behind the wheel to get you from point A to point B safely, and there are plenty of things you can do to keep your vehicle driving smoothly before you ever put the key in the ignition. Keep your holidays happy by staying safe on the road!