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Safety Trips for Driving in a Winter Wonderland

Winter Break is upon us, which means many students are rushing home to their families near and far. Amidst the holiday hubbub, it’s easy to neglect slight sleet or semi icy conditions; however, indifference to unfavorable winter conditions could lead to a fatal accident or serious injuries.

We’ve compiled a list of safety tips from the AAA Exchange on driving in wintry conditions for students headed to the house for this holiday season.

Avoid driving fatigued. The home stretch of the semester is in view, which happens to include finals week (cue foreboding music). In all seriousness, cramming for exams and drinking unholy amounts of Red Bull does not result in the quickest reflexes or heightened awareness of one’s surroundings. The solution is the golden words every college student longs to hear: take a nap before hitting the road. Better to show up late than never get to taste your mom’s Mac and cheese again.

DO NOT use cruise control when driving on a slippery surface (wet, icy, or sand). When you hit the highway, it’s easy to flip a switch and stretch out your legs, but if the conditions are less than savory keep your foot on the pedal. Staying with manual acceleration while driving in questionable conditions allows you to have more control over any dicey situation that may occur.

Always look and steer where you want to go. I know Micheal Bublè’s Christmas album makes you want serenade your laundry basket in the passenger seat, but keep your eyes on the road and hands on the wheel just like they taught in Driver's Ed. Singing while driving, however, is totally acceptable as long as you stay focused - romancing the dirty clothes can wait.

Accelerate and decelerate slowly. Wintry conditions make it take longer to slow down on roads; applying the brakes or gas slowly will allow you to retain traction. Grandma’s cookies will keep; punching the gas will only lead to skidding or spinning out.

Keep a ten second distance between you and the car in front of you. Typically on dry roads, the rule of thumb is to stay three to four seconds behind the car in front of you. However, in icy conditions it takes about five extra seconds to stop, so in order to avoid a claim on your insurance, keep a solid ten second distance between you and the car ahead. Nobody like anyone riding their bumper, anyway - don’t be that person.

As always, follow the golden rule of driving and wear your seatbelt.

Hopefully these tips help keep you safe this winter; safe travel and blessings, friends!

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