While Georgia winters are generally mild compared to other parts of the country, the colder, wetter climate of the northern mountains can bring unpredictable road conditions that may put drivers at risk—particularly those with less experience traveling in inclement weather.
From skidding or hydroplaning on wet roads to encountering black ice or poor visibility, knowing how to handle dangerous conditions may help to avoid a potentially devastating accident. Here are a few safety tips to get ready for the winter driving season.
Look out for black ice
Dropping temperatures may lead to hidden patches of black ice, a thin, transparent sheet of ice that forms when wet roads freeze. When encountering black ice, make sure to keep the steering wheel steady, take your foot off the gas pedal and avoid hitting the brakes.
Check that wiper blades work
Maintaining wiper blades is crucial for ensuring visibility in rainy, snowy or slushy conditions. Make sure to replace blades every six to twelve months, or whenever they become damaged or ineffective, and consider using a cold-weather wiper fluid formula to avoid issues with freezing.
Stay well behind GDOT crews
When following GDOT vehicles spreading gravel or salt or clearing the road, maintain a following distance of at least 100 feet, and do not try to pass them. These vehicles may kick up gravel or other debris that could endanger cars that come too close.
Wet conditions may also lead to hydroplaning, a loss of steering, power control and braking that may occur when water on the road prevents tires from maintaining traction. In wet or rainy weather, sure to avoid braking or turning hard and stay clear of puddles and other areas of standing water.
Take it slow
When conditions are especially hazardous, reduce your driving speed to about half the normal limit. This gives you more time to react to sudden changes in traffic and may help in spotting potential road dangers, such as ice, fallen trees or downed power lines.