When I heard this week's weather forecast for a mix of wintry precipitation my first thought was many drivers in the North Okaloosa County neck of the woods have probably never driven in ice or snow.


When I heard this week's weather forecast for a mix of wintry precipitation, my first thought was many drivers in the North Okaloosa County neck of the woods have probably never driven in ice or snow.



I also realize that this area, being a melting pot of people from across the nation, there are a lot of drivers that have logged many miles on snow- and ice-covered roads.



As for me, I don't pretend to be the end-all expert on driving in icy conditions, nor did I recently stay at a Holiday Inn Express, but having spent close to 20 years driving in East Tennessee winters, I do have a few tips that might come in handy for the first time winter driver.



Take it slow. Snow, freezing rain and sleet can all cause problems when driving. Ice is usually the biggest hazard when driving in winter conditions. And just because you don't see ice, that doesn't mean it isn't present. Freezing rain, which is simply rain that freezes when hitting a frozen ground, is often the biggest culprit in icy conditions.



Be extra careful when crossing bridges and overpasses, especially those over a river or stream. Bridges have no thermal underground heat and will ice over before roadways on the land.



When slowing down or stopping, tap your brakes. You don't always see a patch of ice and you might be braking in icy conditions. Even tapping your brakes on ice is no guarantee you won't find yourself in a spin. Avoid tapping the brakes if your vehicle has anti-lock brakes.



If you do find yourself sliding on a patch of ice, don't fight it. Keep your hands on the steering wheel, but don't try to steer because you are going where the ice takes you.



Most cars today are front-wheel drive, but if you have a rear-wheel drive car or truck, this would be a good time to think about putting some extra weight in the trunk of your car or bed of your truck. The extra weight over the drive axle will give you better traction in slippery conditions. But again, once you start sliding on ice, weight becomes a non-factor.



Remember to keep your lights on when driving in snowy or icy weather, even in daylight hours. While your lights might not improve your own visibility, they do make your car easier to see in less than perfect conditions.



Finally, be safe out there and look out for the other people on the road.



Email News Bulletin Sports Editor Randy Dickson, follow him on Twitter or call 850-682-6524.