Don't drive! But, if you do, you'll want to read this - KFVS12 News & Weather Cape Girardeau, Carbondale, Poplar Bluff

Don't drive! But, if you do, you'll want to read this

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COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) -

If you absolutely have to be out on the roads (and you really shouldn't be driving today, but some really do have to work), you'll want to keep in mind driving on snow and ice is not a walk in the park, not by any stretch of the imagination.

For those who grew up in the South or are so far removed from living "up North" you can't remember what it was like to drive on roads like this, keep reading.

You may not believe this, but it's actually dangerous to drive too slow. Yes, you read this right... If you feel the need to be out on the interstates, don't drive 10 miles per hour. Okay, 10 miles per hour is an estimate, but you're really going to want to stay with the flow of traffic. If not, all you're going to do is cause a bottleneck of vehicles, and that's very dangerous.

How, you say? Because it's far more dangerous to hit your brakes when the roads are slippery than to hit the gas. Believe it or not, forward motion is something you want. Sideways motion, not so much...

When you hit your brakes too often or too hard, it's a recipe for disaster. It's better to ease in and out of your speed. Giving yourself more stopping distance is very, very important. Start slowing down before your instincts say so. Slamming on the brakes (or even depressing them in a normal fashion) will easily send you sliding. That and driving too fast causes most accidents in conditions like this.

Pump those brakes! Or, utilize your anti-lock braking system. Braking gently will allow you to avoid skidding. If your vehicle doesn't have ABS (anti-lock) brakes, you'll want to pump the brakes rather than pushing down hard. If you slam on your brakes, they will likely lock up and cause you to lose control.

If you do start to skid, don't panic. Take your foot off the accelerator and steer into the skid. For example: If the rear of your vehicle is sliding left, steer left into the skid. If it's sliding right, steer right. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.

And, don't tailgate. Now more than ever, it's important to give the driver ahead of you plenty or room and yourself more time to react.

You'll need a clear view. Combining a blind driver and slick road conditions is another recipe for disaster.

There's a very good chance your windshield and mirrors will freeze over if you try to drive during freezing rain for a prolonged period of time.

So, make sure to keep the defrosting mechanisms in your vehicle on and be prepared to stop and scrape your windshield. Trying to snap the ice off of your wipers while driving is not a smart move. Pull over in a safe location and take care of it.

Oh, and you're certainly not going to be driving straight for your entire journey. Any attempt you make to deviate from a straight course is going to be an adventure. Many, many people make the mistake or taking curves too quickly or, even more commonly, hitting their brakes during a turn. That's a no, no.

Keeping your momentum pushing forward during a turn is very important on icy roads. If you hit your brakes, the vehicle will push even harder to the side and likely go off the road. Plan your turns in advance and SLOW DOWN. Braking before the turn will allow you to start turning at a slower speed and won't tempt you to brake in the middle of the turn.

Once you start exiting the turn, it's time to hit the gas again.

Don't use your cruise control. Because of irregularities in the roadway such as icy spots and snow, you'll need to regulate your speed. If you vehicle is set to a certain speed, it may cause you to spin out.

If you see a snowplow or other Department of Transportation vehicle, steer clear.

If you get stuck, don't spin your wheels. Doing so will just dig your wheels deeper into the snow or ice. Try to turn your wheels from side-to-side a few times to push snow out of the way, and then use a light touch on the gas to ease your car out.

You can also use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car or pour sand, cat litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help you get traction.

If you find yourself in a bad accident or are stranded in your vehicle, the fine folks at the South Carolina Department of Public Safety will send help your way if you call *HP.

Stay safe!

Copyright 2014 WIS. All rights reserved.

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