5 Questions: Defensive driving
Bill Kennedy, driving instructor with Drive-Right School of Johnson County, offers safety tips for driving this winter season in bad weather.
Q: What are the biggest mistakes drivers make during the winter season?
A: Many drivers do not prepare themselves mentally to slow down and anticipate activity well in advance. Driving too fast means there is less time to react and get the vehicle stopped in order to avoid hazardous situations ahead. The appropriate following distance under normal conditions is a minimum of two seconds. At night, anytime speeds over 40 mph, and any adverse driving conditions (storms, snow, sleet, rain, fog, etc.) require a minimum following distance of four seconds.
Q: What are some tips for driving safely in hazardous winter weather?
A: First is to slow down! Next, drive defensively and anticipate unexpected maneuvers by other drivers, such as inappropriate speed, illegal turns, and not being able to stop at a stop sign and end up sliding through the intersection. Also, make sure all windows are completely clear before driving in winter weather. This may require utilizing de-icer, and a sturdy window scraper.
Q: If someone’s car begins to slide on ice or snow, what should they do regain control?
A: The first technique is to always look in the direction the driver wants the car to go. Then, they should steer “in the direction of the skid” — the direction the back end is sliding. The driver should also be aware of the type of breaking system in their vehicle — ABS or regular brakes in older vehicles.
Q: What should a person have in their car at all times in case of an accident?
A: In case of a one car crash in a rural area, drivers need to have, but are not limited to the following: first aid kit, shovel, sand, blankets, bottled water, cell phone and charger, fire extinguisher and at least two flash lights with extra batteries.
Q: What should a person check on their car to make sure it’s safe for winter travel?
A: First make sure the car battery is in good working order. Then make sure the tires have good tread, and all fluids are adequate especially window washer fluid. Check to see if the window wipers are working, the headlights are clear and both working. Also make sure the defroster is working. Lastly make sure the vehicle has a full tank of gas for any trip the driver may be making.