Sand products are one of the most helpful and under-used products for winter driving, and the actual consistency of products such as Sakrete Multi-Purpose Sand was made to be poured over ice and provide immediate traction to your vehicle. You can find it at most home improvement stores and the re-sealable bag is suitable for rugged storage in variable temperatures.
2. Add ballast to your car. Products such as Sakrete’s Tube Sand adds weight and ballast to your vehicle to give you better traction, and if you need it, the sand inside also can help you out of a bind. “This is a product much like your spare tire,” says Shawn King of Sakrete, a leading brand of sand and concrete products. “A lot of people forget about it, but if something happens it immediately becomes the most important item in your trunk.”
3. Be prepared for an emergency situation. Emergency situations can arise at any time. The supplies you should keep in your trunk are a properly inflated spare tire, wheel wrench and tripod-type jack, a shovel, jumper cables, tow and tire chains, two or more bags of sand and a tool kit.
You should also carry a survival kit that includes a working flashlight and extra batteries, flares, matches, a compass, extra windshield cleaner, an ice scraper and snow brush, blankets, a first aid kit and non-perishable, high-energy foods like unsalted canned nuts, dried fruits, and hard candy.
4. Turn on your headlights. Even in the daytime to increase your visibility to other motorists, and be sure to keep your lights and windshield clean.
5. Decrease your speed. To drive safely on roads you suspect may be icy, decrease your speed and leave yourself plenty of room to stop. You should allow at least three times more space than usual between you and the car in front of you. Brake gently to avoid skidding. If your wheels start to lock up, ease off the brake.
6. Watch for black ice and other frozen patches. Be especially careful on bridges, overpasses and infrequently traveled roads, which will freeze first. Even at temperatures above freezing, if the conditions are wet, you might encounter ice in shady areas or on exposed roadways like bridges.
7. Shift into lower gears. Use low gears to keep traction, especially on hills. Don't use cruise control or overdrive on icy roads.
8. Drive defensively. If your front wheels skid, take your foot off the gas and shift to neutral, but don't try to steer immediately. As the wheels skid sideways, they will slow the vehicle and traction will return. As it does, steer in the direction you want to go, then return the transmission to "drive" or release the clutch and accelerate gently. Steer in the direction you want your wheels to go. If your rear wheels skid, take your foot off the accelerator and steer left if you are sliding left and right if you’re sliding right.
9. If you get stuck, do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper. Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way. If a light touch on the gas doesn’t ease your car out, open the trunk and take out your emergency shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car. Then, put down the bag of Sakrete Tube Sand –Winter Traction Grit, kept in your trunk, and simply drive over it (The sand comes in a reinforced woven bag made specifically to be driven over). Once you’re out of your bind, don’t forget to stop and pick up the bag in case you need it again for traction.
10. If you become stranded, do not leave your car. Unless you know exactly where you are, how far it is to possible help, and are certain you will improve your situation; it would be extremely dangerous to leave your car. To attract attention, light two flares and place one at each end of the car a safe distance away. Hang a brightly colored cloth from your antenna.
No one wants to drive in inclement weather, but if you have to, being familiar with these 10 tips should make you feel safer.