Snow defensive driving 120219

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WEST SPRINGFIELD, MA (WGGB/WSHM) -- Though things may be a little clearer on the roads now, DPW officials want to remind people about black ice and wet roads.

We spoke with a driving instructor today to get a refresher course on some of the winter safety advice you may have forgotten since driver's education.

"Easier on the brake, easier on the gas, no sudden movements," said AAA's fleet supervisor Michael Beecher.

Beecher is used to supervising more than just tow trucks. "I was a driving instructor here with AAA for a couple years," he explained.

As someone who used to teach the state's newest drivers how to safely navigate the snow, Beecher told Western Mass News there are several driving rules he regularly sees people forget in a storm.

"You have to leave a lot more traveling distance between the car in front of you. Normally, you leave three to four seconds of traveling distance. In weather like this, you want to probably leave 10 to 12 seconds of traveling distance, so a good three to four times longer," Beecher said.

[Reporter: I've always heard people translate into car-lengths.}

"They talk about time, rather than car lengths, because the faster you're going, the more distance you need in front of you," Beecher noted.

[Reporter: ...because different cars can stop at different speeds?]

"Exactly," Beecher said.

If you take a corner too fast, "Let off the brake. People step on the brake harder, but that will just make them slide sideways and try to steer into the skid, in the direction it's going until you regain traction," Beecher added.

Though it's natural to want to steer the other direction to correct, Beecher said it's important to fight that urge.

"Your tires are sliding sideways at that point. They don't have any traction. If you steer into it a bit, at least your tires are going to get some grip that way," Beecher said.

If you learned to drive without anti-lock brakes, there's one thing piece of old advice Beecher wants to dispel for drivers that do have an ABS system now.

"You never want to pump anti-lock brakes," Beecher said.

No matter what type of car you have, Beecher said it's best to drive like you don't have the comforts of modern technology.

"A lot of people think they have four-wheel drive, all-wheel drive, they don't need to slow down. That gives you traction that doesn't help you stop," Beecher explained.

Because of the number of crashes in the area, Beecher said between 12 and 18 AAA tow trucks were out assisting drivers all day Monday.

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