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Driving in winter conditions in South Carolina

On Monday, traffic was backed up in Lexington County on I-20 due to black ice

LEXINGTON, S.C. — Troopers are urging drivers to be alert as wintry weather affects roadway conditions.

With the recent cold weather, the Midlands have noticed more ice on the roadway.

On Monday, traffic was backed up in Lexington County on Interstate 20 because of black ice causing an accident. On Thursday morning, there was another incident involving black ice around the same area.

The South Carolina Highway Patrol has a few tips to help people when they're driving in wintry conditions.

One of the biggest keys to preventing an accident is your speed. According to the South Carolina Department of Public Safety's (SCDPS) website, "Slow down for wet, snowy, or icy conditions. You will be more likely to maintain control of your vehicle at lower speeds."

Drivers should also slow down when they're getting close to an intersection, bridges, ramps, and shady spots on the road. Black ice is almost impossible to see and driving slowly can better ensure your safety.

Another key people should keep an eye on is their following distance. The SCDPS says you should be at leave at least three times more the amount of space than you usually do from the vehicle ahead of you.

Braking is important when it comes to wintry conditions. Drivers should, "Braking gently will help you avoid skidding. If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), press the pedal down firmly and hold it. If you don’t have anti-lock brakes, gently pump the pedal to avoid wheel lock-up."

Drivers should be careful how much they maneuver their cars. The more they have to steer, accelerate, or brake, the more likely they'll lose control of their vehicle.

People should never use cruise control in winter driving conditions. Drivers need to be alert and be prepared for what may come their way. You never know what another vehicle might do.

The SCDPS says drivers should do the following if their car starts to skid:

  • Take your foot off the accelerator.
  • Counter steer: If the rear of your vehicle is sliding left, steer left into the skid. If it’s sliding right, steer right. Steer in the direction you want the front of the vehicle to go.
  • If you have standard brakes, pump them gently.
  • If you have anti-lock brakes (ABS), do not pump the brakes. Apply steady pressure to the brakes. You will feel the brakes pulse -- this is normal.

If you get stuck, officials have the following tips:

  • Do not spin your wheels. This will only dig you in deeper.
  • Turn your wheels from side to side a few times to push snow out of the way.
  • Use a light touch on the gas, to ease your car out.
  • Use a shovel to clear snow away from the wheels and the underside of the car.
  • Pour sand, cat litter, gravel or salt in the path of the wheels, to help get traction.