‘Tis the season for icy roads and snow-packed driveways.
For those who are new to Utah, winter can be intimidating, as driving in snow presents far more challenges than driving in other conditions.
According to the Utah Department of Transportation, on average, the Beehive State experiences at least 25 winter storms a year. The Utah Vehicle Collisions database lists nearly 2,500 snow-related crashes between October 2018 and April 2019.
Driving in winter conditions can be scary, as the roads are wet and icy. 36-year-old Utah native and Salt Lake Community College nursing student Justin Baker says the type of vehicle you drive is not the most important factor.
“Make sure you have good tires,” he says. “Having a 4-wheel-drive or all-wheel-drive vehicle does not mean you won’t slip and slide.”
According to Utah Highway Patrol, vehicle preparation is important. Drivers should check wiper blades to make sure they are clearing the windshield instead of smearing.
When the temperature drops, battery power follows. Consequently, drivers should test their battery to make sure it has enough power to last the winter.
According to the Federal Highway Administration, a common cause for winter accidents is black ice, which is a thin coating of glaze ice on a surface.
“If you can hear your tires on the road, then it means you’re driving on ice,” Baker says, noting that many drivers instinctually want to slam the brakes. When that happens, the tires lock and they end up sliding even more.
Speed is another factor for winter driving. The Utah Highway Patrol advises drivers to check the weather and road conditions before getting behind the wheel. While driving on wet or icy roads, drivers should always reduce their speed below the regular posted limit.
Jayden Hemmert, a 23-year-old Utah native, recommends starting the day earlier and planning ahead.
“Give yourself plenty of time, don’t be in a rush,” he advises. “Accelerate slow, brake early and don’t turn sharp.”
Browse the Winter Driving in Utah website for additional tips.