Former IndyCar driver offers winter driving tips

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INDIANAPOLIS, Ind. -  Dan Clarke has spent a lot of time behind the wheel and after more than a decade of racing he dedicates some of his time to lecturing teens and adults about safe driving habits on the roads.

“People are in a rush and everyone has somewhere they need to go. We are always running late," Clarke said. "And sometimes the conditions just make it a lot worse if we are not paying attention or sliding around in the snow and the ice.”

That was the case in Indianapolis Friday morning. There were several slide offs on Interstates and a multi-vehicle pile up downtown that included an IndyGo Bus.

Clarke offered up these three tips to keep you safe while driving the rest of the winter.

  1. Slow down and give the car in front of you space: Clarke said in good conditions you should stay about three to four seconds behind the car in front of you. In bad conditions, he said you should increase that distance between you and the car in front of you to about eight to 10 seconds.
    "If it is icy or it is snowy that breaking distance is a lot longer. We need a lot more distance in front of us to get safely slowed down," Clarke said.
  2. Invest in winter tires: Clarke said they'll cost a  pretty penny, but probably less than your deductible if you get in a crash. He explained winter tires have more tread and give you better traction.
    “This tread will spread out (while driving) and it will kind of like an animal, grab into the ground a bit. Grab into the snow," he said.
  3. Make sure you are familiar with your car: He said people often panic in emergency situations, especially if they need to brake quickly. Most cars now have an anti-lock braking system or ABS. He explained if you need to stop quickly and you have ABS and you hear a funny noise, you're doing it correctly.
    “Those noises and sounds are just letting you know that ABS is working. It’s braking, detecting a wheel lock up,  releasing that brake in a matter of milliseconds and then reengaging the brake," Clarke said. "The important thing to remember is to keep pushing (the brake) during that ABS stage, until you come to a stop.”

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