The snow storms that brought much of the South to a frigid standstill this past week provided a reminder of how surprising the weather can be -- and how unprepared some cities and drivers can be when they're not accustomed to such harsh weather. (You have our sympathy, Atlanta.) This week's tip comes from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. You may want to pass this along to your fleet drivers, especially those who haven't logged lots of miles in snowy conditions.
- Know your car. Every vehicle handles differently -- this is particularly true when driving on wet, icy or snowy roads. Take time now to learn how to best handle your vehicle under winter weather driving conditions.
- Practice cold weather driving when your area gets snow -- but not on a main road. Until you've sharpened your winter weather driving skills and know how your vehicle handles in snowy conditions, it's best to practice in an empty parking lot in full daylight.
- Drive slowly. It's harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you'll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
- A word of caution about braking: Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly. In general, if you have antilock brakes, apply firm pressure. If you don't have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
- If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This procedure, known as "steering into the skid," will bring the back end of your car in line with the front.