Storm to Hit WI Thursday: Tips for Safe Driving in Harsh Weather

The National Weather Service issued a Winter Storm Warning for a big chunk of Wisconsin for Thursday. According to the warning, the storm is expected to start as rain and turn to snow along the lakeshore. It is expected to hit all counties in the WISN 12 viewing area except for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties sometime between midnight Wednesday and midnight Thursday.

With such a severe storm on the horizon, it is important to pay close attention to the roads and to take extra caution when driving. Along with major snow storms come treacherous road conditions and an increased risk for car accidents.

If you will be driving between midnight Wednesday and midnight Thursday, here are some safe driving tips to help you get to and from your destination safely:

  • Check your tires: You should check your tire pressure and upgrade your tires before the snow storm hits to ensure you are protected. Once the snow starts falling, put on your chains.
  • Increase your visibility: Before driving, make sure to completely remove the snow from your vehicle’s windows and from the roof to make sure you can see as clearly as possible.
  • Keep your lights on: Turn your lights on so other drivers can see you coming.
  • Drive slowly: Be extra careful while driving in a severe storm. Rain and ice increase the risk for skidding and harsh weather makes it difficult to see cars ahead. This can be a deadly combination if you are driving too fast.
  • Leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle ahead: A good rule of thumb when driving in snowy conditions is to leave at least three times more space between you and the car in front of you; this will allow you to stop safely.
  • Avoid distractions: Driving in harsh weather conditions is difficult and takes full attention. Avoid distractions such as talking on a hand held cell phone, sending or receiving text messages or looking at a road map or electronic navigation device.
  • Keep your eyes on the road: The most important thing you can do while driving in severe weather is to pay attention. Keep your eyes on the road and pay attention to debris in the road and other vehicles.
  • If your rear wheels skid while you are driving, take your foot off the accelerator and steer the vehicle in the direction that it is sliding. If, for example, your back wheels are sliding left, steer left. As you recover, if the wheels start to slide the other way, slowly steer the wheel into that direction.
  • If your vehicle gets stuck, do not spin your wheels; that will only make matters worse. Turn your wheels to the right and then to the left a couple of times to push some of the snow out of the way. Lightly press the gas to ease your vehicle out of the snow. You can also try pouring sand, salt or kitty litter in the path to gain traction.

With the first storm of the year expected to hit Wisconsin this week, it is important to pay attention to the roads and to make sure your vehicle is safe.