Learn how to drive safely through the Smokies in winter

Tennessee is a beautiful state during all four seasons. Although our winters here are typically short and mild, it's a given that the Smoky Mountain regions will get their share of snow and ice. These types of precipitation make lovely photo opportunities but dangerous driving conditions.

If you plan on driving through the mountains this winter to visit kin or to enjoy a winter vacation in a cozy cabin, the below tips for winter driving in the Smokies may be helpful.

Plan ahead

Inclement weather usually doesn't last too long, even in the higher mountain elevations. Check the upcoming forecasts for the area to plan how much travel time you'll need. You may want to leave early to avoid a forecasted snowfall.

Stay off the road

Regardless of your own driving skills, when the snow falls and ice forms, anyone on the road is at a heightened risk of accidents. Sometimes it is your fellow motorists who pose the greatest dangers, so it's always wise to steer clear of narrow mountain passes and steep inclines when the weather takes a turn for the worse.

Avoid skids

When the terrain gets slick with ice, slow it down. Turns, braking and accelerating should all be done almost in slow motion. Reduce your speed according to weather conditions. If another driver rides your bumper, motion for them to pass.

Perfect the rolling stop

While it's important not to break Tennessee traffic laws, braking on icy surfaces can be a dicey proposition. You may be able to maintain traction better by doing a brief rolling stop at traffic-free intersections.

Maintain your vehicle

This tip is germane for all seasons, but in winter, it's especially important that your tires have sufficient tread and that your brakes are in good working order. You also may need to add some antifreeze to your radiator in cold weather.

Beware of shaded roads

Narrow mountain passes that get lots of shade can be downright treacherous. Other sections of road may be dry and free of icy patches, but shaded sections can keep a sheen of ice on them for days. Even worse, it's often the impossible to see "black ice" that trips up drivers.

If you wind up in an accident with an at-fault driver here in Tennessee, you will need to be proactive about filing a timely claim for damages if you want to recover your losses from the wreck.

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