Driving school

Driving in icy and snowy conditions? Here’s what a driving instructor had to say.

Reducing speed and increasing distance are just some of the tips that can help drivers stay safe on the roads.

SUFFOLK, Va. — In his more than two decades of teaching adults and teens behind the wheel, there’s not a question Terry Hancock hasn’t encountered.

This makes him the ideal person to help others drive safely.

“People don’t realize they drive as fast as they do,” Hancock said.

This weekend, eastern Virginia and northeastern North Carolina will be hit with snow, with estimates ranging from one to seven inches, depending on the region.

While reducing a car’s speed is an important road safety measure, Hancock says it’s not the ultimate tactic.

“[Decisions] happen in milliseconds,” he told 13News Now on Friday.

speed and space

If reducing your speed is a necessary tool for driving in the snow, the space left between the cars is just as important.

“The DMV manual said ‘Reduce speed by one-third in rain and one-half in snow and ice.’ But now it’s changed to increase your tracking distance,” Hancock said.

Drivers have to roughly double the space between them and the car in front of them. AAA Tidewater recommends about eight seconds of separation.

One way to measure this distance is to choose a landmark on the road and count the seconds between when the car in front of you and your car pass it.

Braking and steering

If you need to slow down, the braking should be both gradual and constant.

“Apply your break, stay on the break and go where you want to go,” Hancock said. “Keep constant pressure on it.”

Hancock also said that in certain cornering situations, although it may seem like it goes against your natural instincts, relieving pressure on the brake could help if your car is skidding.

“If your tires start to lock up on ice, you might want to lift the brake so the car can regain traction. And then start again, applying light pressure,” Hancock said. “The instinct is to put that brake pedal through the floor when the car is going where it’s not supposed to! But sometimes you have to fight that instinct and actually lift that brake.

In the event of a swerve, Hancock recommends drivers stay calm and look in the direction they want the car to move, rather than frantically looking away.

“Don’t look everywhere,” Hancock said. “Because your car will go anywhere! Watch where you want to go.”