Tips to stay safe on the roads this winter

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(ABC 6 News) – Road conditions can change in an instant during the winter. The weather plays only one part in driving safely. The rest is up to you.

Ryan Marx, an instructor and the owner of Enhanced Driving Institute said there are two big variables in winter driving – traction and visibility. Unless there’s ice, Marx said traction can be improved by slowing down.

“Visibility is often the greatest unknown. If you can’t, if your tires don’t grip and you can’t see, that makes driving paralyzed,” explained Marx.

And if you ultimately can’t see, like in a blizzard – getting into a parking lot is your safest bet.

“Often times when you just pull over on the side of the road, that’s not that safe because other cars are trying to maneuver. If you do pull over, you want to make sure your lights are on. Your hazard lights are on. And sometimes that’s all you can do is get off the road.”

When you get off the road, move over as far as you can. Putting yourself in a safe place without the risk of being bumped into a ditch. If you do start to dip into a ditch:

“Well, obviously an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure when it comes to losing control. Not all losses of control can be recovered from if you were going too fast, to begin with. You can’t always overcome the laws of physics. If it is recoverable, you want to try and steer in the direction that your back end is sliding.”

Start off with a speed you’re comfortable with. If you don’t feel sliding, Marx says to increase your speed by five miles an hour.

“If you approach winter driving the same as summer driving, you’re going to fail.”

One more tip – sometimes you can see the ice and sometimes you can’t. A glossy road is your main sign there’s black ice.

If you absolutely have to go out on the roads, Marx said to plan ahead as best you can.