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Winter Driving Tips from a Pro

December 18, 2017 Updated: September 8, 2020

Part of staying safe on the road means being prepared. When the temperature drops, the safest thing to do is stay home during unsafe weather conditions. But knowing what to do in an emergency if you get stuck out on the roads could save your life.

UFCW Local 1996 member John Cunningham is a CDL driver at JBS/Pilgrim Pride of Athens with 26 years of professional commercial driving experience. With over 1.3 million miles of commercial driving during his career, John knows a thing or two about driving in adverse weather conditions.

Here are a few of his tips for a safer winter driving experience on snow or ice:

1) “First of all, if you don’t have to be out and about, DON’T go out. Stay home. Driving on ice and snow is treacherous for everybody, including those with experience driving on it.”

2) “If you do decide to go out, make sure you have a few supplies in case something happens. This list can include but is not limited to: candy or peanuts, non perishable food, extra clothing, boots, a flash light, a full tank of gas if possible, at least a couple of blankets, and a bright piece of cloth or reflective cloth. This is just a partial list of things you may want to have on hand. There are more items that you could keep on hand. You can use your best judgment or look to the internet for suggestions.”

3) “If you make it out on the road, drive slowly. During slick or icy conditions it does not pay to get in a hurry. Increase your following distance to at least twice, maybe three times, the distance it would be during ideal, dry conditions. Accelerate and decelerate slowly.”

4) “Bridges will inevitably freeze BEFORE the roadway. I start being wary when roads are wet and temperatures start getting around 34 degrees as I have seen bridges start to get slick around that temperature. If you can see ice forming on your mirrors, bridges are probably freezing with roadways not far behind.”

5) “Don’t get cocky in a 4 wheel drive or all wheel drive vehicle. They can give a driver a false sense of security when driving during these conditions.”

6) “If the rear of your car starts to slide, gently let off of your accelerator and turn your wheel in the direction of the slide to help correct the situation. Try not to panic as that can be one of the worst things you can do because you will not think clearly. Easy to say I know, but it can be done.”

Stay safe out there!

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