Winter Driving Awareness

Bad weather conditions are out of our control and often occur unexpectedly.  Therefore, adjusting to winter driving conditions should be at the forefront of our defensive driving mindset. This post identifies some common issues that a coach operator may run into when out on the road and tips on how to respond when appropriate.

Loss of Traction

Rain, snow, sleet and ice reduce vehicle traction and can double the distance required to stop.


  • Slow down and immediately adjust your speed to the existing conditions.
  • Anticipate possible braking situations and avoid sudden stops or turns at intersections and exit ramps.
  • If you can’t see, don’t drive.
  • Increase rest breaks to reduce stress and fatigue.
  • Keep windows and mirrors clean, clear and in proper adjustment.

Black Ice

Sudden drop in temps cause an invisible coating of ice on the road surface creating an extremely hazardous condition, usually before the driver is aware of it. A road surface is more slippery at 28 to 30 degrees than it is at zero degrees.


  • Anticipate surface temperature to be lower than air temperature readings and adjust your speed.
  • Bridges and overpasses are the first to freeze and are very dangerous when temperatures reach the freezing mark.
  • Gradually reduce your speed. Never force brake or attempt to turn the steering on black ice.
  • Keep alert to tire spray thrown by other vehicles. Normal spray indicates the road surface hasn’t frozen yet. A sudden lack of spray from the tires is a sure sign that conditions are right for black ice.

Bad weather doesn’t cause accidents, bad decisions by drivers who have not adjusted their vehicle speed to existing conditions cause winter weather accidents. When conditions are severe and control of the vehicle is uncertain, find a place of safety and stop driving. Report your location and estimated stop time to dispatch immediately. Preventing accidents is a joint responsibility of everyone.

And remember: when the snow falls, so should your speed.