Snowy roads and freezing conditions can be scary, especially for those who are new behind the wheel or who haven’t grown up around heavy snow. Although schools, roads, and businesses can all be closed down by the weather, on most days, life still goes on.

Driving in snowy conditions doesn’t have to be scary! The key is to not be in a rush, stay hyper-vigilant, and follow the tips below.

Stay cool when you find trouble

The heat from the roads combined with the subfreezing temperatures in the air team up to form black ice all winter long. If you find yourself gliding across an icy patch, try to remain calm. Panicking and hitting the breaks is one of the worst things you can do when driving on ice! It’s natural to be scared, but if you let that fear take charge, then you will surrender all control over your vehicle and will likely start to spin.

Your best bet for driving on ice is to focus on steering. The trick to keeping your vehicle straight is to steer into the turn. What this means is that if you start to feel the back end of your vehicle sliding to the right, gently turn the wheel to the right. Be careful not to whip the wheel too hard or you might have the opposite effect.

Don’t accelerate

To expand on the above point, when on ice, focus on steering your vehicle as it coasts over the ice, no gas pedal needed. However, ice isn’t the only time this winter you won’t want to accelerate. If you find yourself stuck, accelerating will only make the situation worse. Consider carrying kitty liter or long strips of cardboard in your trunk. You can use these items to help your tires gain traction to pull you out of the rut rather than relying on force alone.

Brush your car

This step is so simple that it’s often overlooked. Stay in the habit of brushing the snow off the roof of your car. When you don’t, slabs of snow and ice can fly off the back of your car and hit the vehicles behind you. The snow could also slide forward when you hit the brakes, completely obscuring your view of what’s ahead. You wouldn’t drive around with your windshield covered in snow, so take a few extra minutes to clean the top as well.

The danger of car accidents in the winter amplifies. Combine shorter periods of daylight with treacherous road conditions and you’ve got yourself a recipe for danger. If you find yourself in an accident, talk with the other driver and move to a safer, well-lit location to trade information and inspect damages. If the accident becomes a pileup, you should look for an opportunity to move away from all vehicles, as they will likely continue to be hit from behind. That being said, if the roadways are not clear, do not try to run across traffic. In other words, try to avoid placing yourself in a position where you might be hit by another driver, both inside and outside of a vehicle.

In summary, give yourself extra time on the roads, carry the essentials with you, keep your car clean, and remain calm no matter what conditions you run into this winter.