Winter weather driving advice - | WBTV Charlotte

Winter weather driving advice

South Carolina (WBTV) -

With the arrival of winter and the possibility that motorists may have to drive in inclement weather, the Highway Patrol in both North and South Carolina is offering simple and safe driving tips.


The weather in North Carolina is unpredictable and this time of year you never know when to expect black ice, snow, icy roads or a mixture of road conditions.

The North Carolina Highway Patrol is asking motorists to prepare in advance for the winter driving months ahead.

"Winter brings new obstacles and responsibilities that the motoring public will experience when inclement weather moves into our state.  Despite a rather mild winter so far, North Carolina's weather can often change from one day to the next," says Patrol spokesman, First Sergeant Jeff Gordon.

Here are a few simple steps to help keep you on the road and less anxious:

  • Avoid travel unless necessary when winter weather is in your area.
  • Decrease speed.
  • Wear your seatbelt.

Driving Considerations

  • Leave early – allow more travel time; expect delays.
  • Increase distance between vehicles – it takes significantly longer to stop on snow covered or icy roadways.
  • Clear all windows on your vehicle prior to travel – having unobstructed vision is vital to avoid running off of the road or having a collision.
  • Illuminate your vehicles headlamps.
  • Use caution on bridges and overpasses as they susceptible to freezing before roadways.
  • Avoid using cruise control – cruise can cause the vehicle's wheels to continue turning on a slippery surface when speed needs to be decreased.

Be Prepared

  • Ensure your vehicle has a full tank of gas in the event you are stranded for an extended period of time.
  • Charge your cellular phone prior to departure.
  • Take a blanket.
  • Notify a family member or a friend of your travel plans prior to departure – if you travel is interrupted, someone will know.

Collision Information

  • Be patient – weather also limits our capabilities and increases our response time; also, keep in mind that we will be experiencing a high volume of requests for service.
  • Attempt to move your vehicle out of the roadway if you are involved in a minor, non-injury traffic collision; especially if you are in a dangerous area such as a curve or a blind hill.
  • If your vehicle is stranded or wrecked but not in the roadway, attempts to recover your vehicle will have to wait until conditions improve for safety considerations.

To check the status of road conditions, motorists are asked to go to the Department of Transportation's website at The public is not advised to dial 911 or the Highway Patrol Communication Centers for road conditions.

However, citizens can contribute to highway safety by reporting erratic drivers to the Highway Patrol by dialing *Hp or *47 on their cellular phones. Callers will remain anonymous and should give a description of the vehicle, location, direction of travel and license number if possible.


The South Carolina Highway Patrol offers the following advice for safe driving on icy roads:

  • Decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you.
  • Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
  •  Turn on your lights to increase your visibility to other motorists.
  • Keep your lights and windshield clean.
  • Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills.
  • Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
  • Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads,
    which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions
    are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like
  • Don't pass snow plows and sanding trucks. The drivers have limited visibility,
    and you're likely to find the road in front of them worse than the road behind.
  • Don't assume your vehicle can handle all conditions. Even four-wheel and
    front-wheel drive vehicles can encounter trouble on winter roads.
    If your rear wheels skid:
  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Steer in the direction you want the front wheels to go. If your rear wheels are
    sliding left, steer left. If they're sliding right, steer right.
  • If your rear wheels start sliding the other way as you recover, ease the steering
    wheel toward that side. You might have to steer left and right a few times to
    get your vehicle completely under control.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady
    pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse -- this is normal.
    If your front wheels skid
  • Take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer
  • As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return.
    As it does, steer in the direction you want to go. Then put the transmission in
  • "drive" or release the clutch, and accelerate gently.
    If you get stuck
  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, kitty litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get
  • Try rocking the vehicle. (Check your owner's manual first -- it can damage the
    transmission on some vehicles.) Shift from forward to reverse, and back again.
    Each time you're in gear, give a light touch on the gas until the vehicle gets

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