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Tips For Safe Winter Driving

So far the winter snowfalls have been just enough to be a nuisance, and another round is expected this coming weekend.  Winter driving can sometimes be treacherous, which makes it all the more important for motorists to drive without distractions.  Abiding by the Illinois cell phone law is the best way to make winter travel safer for everyone, but it doesn't stop there.
 
Before starting out, always clear snow and ice from the windows and lights of your vehicle to increase your visibility and to be seen by others.  Don't forget to clean the brake lights too, so drivers behind you will know your intentions.
 
Accelerate slowly so that the wheels do not spin.  Applying the gas slowly to accelerate is the best method for regaining tracing and avoiding skids.  Avoid sudden starts, stops and turns – it takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
 
Drive slower and increase your following distance.  The normal, dry pavement following distance of 2-3 seconds should be increased to 7-8 seconds.  The posted speed limits are for ideal conditions. On dry pavement, a car doing 20 mph can stop in 25 feet, but it can take up to 150 feet to stop on an icy road.  Slow down! In fact, Illinois law requires motorists to slow down if a special hazard exists due to weather or road conditions.
 
Roadway conditions may vary depending on the sun, shade, or roadway surface. Watch for slick spots, especially under bridges, on overpasses, and in shady spots. Be prepared to react physically and mentally.
 
In rain, snow, or sleet, do not overdrive your headlights. Stay within the limits of your vision.  Low beams work better than high beams during snowy or foggy conditions. Illinois law requires that your headlights be on if you are using your wipers due to inclement weather.
 
If your car is equipped with an anti-lock braking system (ABS), press firmly on the brake pedal.  Do not pump the pedal or remove your foot from the brake.  You will typically feel the brake pedal "pulse" back against your foot.  If your car does not have ABS - for braking under icy or snowy conditions it's best to apply the brakes firmly to a point just short of lock-up, then ease off of the pedal slightly.

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