North Idaho drivers know that the roads are NOT more dangerous just because of freezing temperatures. In fact, the colder the ice and snow, the better the traction. What makes it sketchy is the ongoing freeze and melt with layers of water on top of the snow and ice when the outside temperature is above freezing (32°F or 0°C). It's this layer of water that lubricates the ice and makes it slippery.
Top 10 Icy Road Driving Tips
We asked the experts in the shop about driving strategies for living around lakes and mountains with a lot of extra water. Here’s what they said:
1. Know which parts of our roads freeze first. If the outside temperature is near the freezing point, ice forms first:
- on bridges and overpasses
- in shadowing parts of the landscape such as hills, buildings, and bridges
- along roads that run past bodies of water
- in low-lying areas
- and in high elevations
2. See and be seen. Go out early and warm up your vehicle for 5-10 minutes including front and rear defrost. Clear all the snow, frost, and dirt from lights and glass. Keep a snowbrush and ice scraper in your vehicle. Use a credit card edge if you don't have an ice scraper!
3. Slow down. Speeding or passing on icy roads can be deadly or expensive if you crash into a tree, rock, curb or slide off the road. Be prepared to drive significantly slower than you normally would on summer or dry roadways.
4. Allow extra time to drive from one place to another. Leave early and don’t be in a rush to get anywhere. The better thing is to just stay home if you have the option to work or study remotely. Don't let anyone pressure you if you feel unsafe or don't have winter tires for icy and snowy conditions.
5. Leave plenty of distance between you and other drivers. Keep at least three car lengths between your vehicle and the one in front of you. If not, you are likely to slide or hit the back of their car when they brake or pump their brakes due to ice.
6. Drive with your lights on day and night due to lower visibility. Even if it is not snowing, sleeting, or icing, your headlights serve as an extra safety precaution.
7. Never use cruise control in winter weather conditions. Cruise control takes vehicle control away from you. In fact, use a lower gear to provide more traction on treacherous roads, making it less likely for your truck or car to accelerate quickly if you start to slide.
8. Don’t make any sudden maneuvers. If you lose control on an icy road, take your foot off the gas, gently pump standard brakes or apply steady pressure to anti-lock brakes. Allow your vehicle to slow down before attempting to take control or turning the wheel sharply.
9. Take friends and neighbors up on their offers to run errands for you, pick groceries up in town or drive together. That’s why we choose to live here – small communities and caring people who genuinely want to help. Offer help of your own if you happen to be out and about!
10. Last, never pass snowplows. Such a bonehead move!
If you want to know what to carry in your vehicle during the winter, click on one of our most popular lists: