Safe Winter Driving Takes Skill, Knowledge, and Patience

January 21, 2020

winter driving tips utica nyThe daughter of a friend of the agency lives in Atlanta. She complains that just an inch of snow brings the Southerners to their knees! Anyone who has had to drive the super highways of Atlanta knows how dangerous that can be.

Up here in Utica, we know how to drive in the snow. But winter weather can get really bad. And it’s especially tough going on the major local roadways. We’re thinking of Route 5 West toward Vernon and Oneida, Route 5S from Utica to Ilion, Herkimer, and Mohawk. And Route 8 and Route 12. These roads are open and blustery in the winter, making them especially dangerous.

So we thought we’d list some things you can do to improve your winter driving skills for really bad weather, the “big ones.”

Improve Your Skills Driving in the Snow in the Utica Area

  • Drive slower. This should come naturally to most people, but we marvel at those who still drive like they did in August. Thing is, you don’t get the traction you need when you’re driving too fast on icy roads.
  • Speaking of slow, accelerate and decelerate more slowly during difficult winter conditions. Take your time moving from a stopped position. Start breaking early when you’re slowing down for a stop light or stop sign.
  • We’ve talked before about the 2 second rule: choose an object ahead and when the vehicle in front of you passes it, count 2 seconds before you reach it. Since it takes more time to stop on ice and snow, increase your count to five or six seconds.
  • Here’s a skill move: try to slow down just enough to be able to keep rolling until a traffic light changes. Moving ahead is a lot easier this way than from a dead stop.
  • Skill move #2: Get some inertia going before you hit a snow covered hill. In this way you won’t have to accelerate on your way up, which can cause your wheels to spin. This will also help you avoid having to stop on the hill when it’s near impossible to get going again.
  • Avoid changing lanes on multi-lane highways as often as you might during summertime. It’s easy to lose control when driving over built-up snow between the lanes. If you’re on a 4 lane highway, stick to the lane that’s most recently been cleared.
  • When braking with anti-lock brakes, don’t pump the pedal or remove your foot from the brake. You should feel the brake pedal vibrate and pulse back against your foot. This is the way it should work.

We look at these tips as critical for any driver in the Utica area. Experienced drivers should take a quick look to brush up on what they probably already know. But if you have any young drivers in the house, make reading this list mandatory.

It’s also a good idea, especially for young drivers, to try practicing on an empty, snow covered parking lot. Get the anti-lock brakes to kick in and experience the vibration of the brakes doing their job. Try to start the car from a dead stop and get the feel for the tires interacting with the snow.

And if you do have an accident, we at Scalzo, Zogby & Wittig, Inc. are here to help. Call us and we’ll walk you through the claims process. This includes making sure you complete the New York State mandatory reporting forms.

If you’re not our client, let us quote your car insurance. We’ll get you the right protection for the best price.

Here’s to safe, skilled driving this winter!

Until next time,
Your SZW Team

SZW Insurance is your Utica area Trusted Choice™ independent insurance agent. Call us for a quote on insurance for your home, car, business, or life at 315.792.0000. Or request a quote here. In Westchester County call Zak Scalzo at 914.246.0315 or email at