As winter gets closer, the chance for poor conditioned roads will begin to increase. There are several different ways you can help to prepare for the winter ahead. It is important to keep safe while driving on icy roads this winter. To help have your vehicle in the safest condition possible, make sure to go to regular scheduled maintenances. Also make sure that the windshield wipers are functioning properly. This is important incase any precipitation occurs because then you will be able to clear it away to insure better visibility as you drive. The windshield washer fluid should also be filled to the amount recommended by the reservoir. Also check the front and rear defrosters to ensure they are working properly. Once your vehicle is ready for winter, make sure you drive safely on icy or snow covered roads. Use the vehicle’s lower gears when traveling on icy roads. Try to avoid using cruise control on your vehicle while driving on poor roads. By not having cruise control on, you will be able to control your vehicle better if you hit an icy patch. Get traction for the tires Before the winter, make sure the tires are properly inflated and have plenty of tread left on them before driving on icy roads. You may also likely need to switch to snow tires before winter. The snow tires are made of a softer rubber than that of all weather tires. This helps to give the snow tires a better grip on the road. Snow tires also have specially designed tread patterns to provide better traction on ice and snow. You can also invest in snow chains for your vehicle. This is another way to get better traction on the icy roads. However, with snow chains, you will not be able to drive as fast as you could without them. So it is not recommended to keep them on your tires all winter, but you can store them in your vehicle incase you need them in an emergency situation. Reduce driving speeds on ice Speed can be dangerous no matter what the driving condition is. Speed and ice is also a bad combination while you travel. On ice or snow covered roads, make sure to take proper precautions and drive at an appropriate speed, even if it means slowing down significantly. Driving slower and being able to keep your vehicle under control is more important that driving at the exact speed limit and risk your vehicle going in the ditch or having an accident. That is why traffic will typically slow down anywhere from five to forty percent of the average speed in a heavy snowstorm. At higher speeds, you do not have as much time to react if someone brakes ahead of you. Since it will then take twice as long to stop on icy roads, you may find yourself in an emergency situation. You will also have less control of the vehicle at the higher speeds when the weather is bad. If your vehicle has an anti-lock braking system, you should maintain a steady pressure on the break pedal and the ABS will handle the braking for you as it adapts to the road conditions. If you start to skid, remember to stay calm and steer gently into the skid until the tires regain traction once again. Be careful as you drive on black ice Black ice actually looks like clear ice. This is because black ice will form with very few air bubbles, which makes it transparent. The black ice is much harder to see than normal ice when you drive. In fact, most people usually mistake black ice for wet pavement while driving. It is dangerous because drivers are unprepared to react to the slippery conditions when they encounter the black ice. Research has shown that black ice was five times more dangerous that driving in normal conditions. Apply the brakes on black ice can also take up to nine times longer to stop than normal.