Winter Driving Tips

Winter Driving Tips – How to Prepare for Winter Weather Driving

Winter driving can be both stressful and hazardous. Snow, ice and blizzard conditions increase the normal dangers of driving. Add wind and you have an even worse situation. There are things you can do before the winter driving season and even during a storm to protect yourself and anyone riding with you.

winter driving

Before a winter storm arrives, have your car inspected by a mechanic to be sure it is ready for the road conditions. If you know enough about cars, you can do this yourself. Check the battery, lights, ignition system, defrosters, thermostat, brakes, antifreeze, exhaust system, wipers and fluid, oil level, and heater. Make sure everything is in good working order to improve safety throughout the cold weather.

Check your tires to be sure they are ready for driving during winter weather. In moderate amounts of snow, all-weather radial tires will do the job nicely. If you live in a climate where you experience a lot of snow, consider snow tires. These have better tread to deal with snow and ice.

Before a winter storm, prepare an emergency kit to keep in the back of your car. This will ensure that you are prepared in the event that you get stuck in the snow. Things to include in the kit:

  • Ice scraper
  • First aid kit
  • Extra change of clothes in the event you get wet while outside of the car
  • Tool kit
  • Jumper cables
  • Help sign for back window
  • Bright cloth to use as a flag
  • Flares or warning triangles
  • Flashlight with batteries
  • Plastic bags
  • Small broom
  • Small shovel
  • Blankets or a sleeping bag
  • Bag of sand or even kitty litter (to give traction if you get stuck in snow or ice)
  • Food and water to sustain you if you get stuck
  • Extra hat and gloves
  • A book, Bible or Prayer Cards to keep you busy and calm in the event you get stuck.
  • Charged cell phone (always carry this, especially in the winter)
  • Rechargeable battery pack

Keep your gas tank at least half full at all times. This adds weight to the car and will ensure that you wont run out of gas in the event you get stuck or at least be able to keep the car running to stay warm for longer.

Driving in the Snow

Pay attention to the weather forecasts and road conditions. If the weather is bad and you can, just stay home. If you must venture out, travel during the day. You are more likely to find help if you get stuck during the day and have less of a chance of hitting black ice.

Never warm up your vehicle in the garage. Vehicles releases carbon monoxide, which is toxic and can kill you if it rises too high without ventilation.

Always wear your seatbelt. Believe it or not, you will want to wear sunglasses to protect your eyes from the glare of the sun reflecting off the snow. Know your car and how it handles in the snow. Features like traction control and antilock brakes can be useful in bad weather conditions. If you do not know how to use traction control, check your user manual for your vehicle. Know how these work and if your car is new, practice driving it in a snow covered parking lot before venturing out on the road.

Take it slow, especially in icy conditions. Don’t tailgate and be sure to allow a safe distance between yourself and other vehicles. Do everything slowly including when you are stopping, accelerating and turning. Leave plenty of time and space to maneuver your vehicle. Sliding and skidding usually happen when turning, stopping or accelerating even when going slow so be sure to stay focused. Going extra slow will ensure your safety.

If the visibility is low, slow down even more. Consider getting off highways if you are going much slower than other vehicles. This will take you out of the path of large trucks that can cause accidents. It can be a driving hazard if you are driving a lot slower than other vehicles. However, you need to drive at a speed you feel safe and in control. Going on back roads can be risky due to the fact that they may not have been treated or plowed so take extra time on those back roads! Use only your low beams, as your high beams will reflect back off the snow. High beams don’t really increase your visibility due to the reflections. Turn on your hazard lights to be sure other drivers see you, especially if you are going slow.

In the event your car gets stuck, don’t get out to stay. Get out long enough to put up the hood and tie your cloth to the antennae. This will make you more visible to emergency vehicles and other drivers while keeping you out of the way of other drivers possibly sliding into you. You will be more protected INSIDE the vehicle. Keep the windows and air grill clear of snow. Wrap up in the extra blankets and huddle up with any other passengers to stay warm. Run the heat for fifteen minutes each hour to keep from freezing and running out of gas. Move your body around to stay warm.

Keeping your car clean on the outside throughout the winter is important. Salt on the roads is important for safety, but will wreak havoc on the body of the car. Salt left on the vehicle can cause rusting. Wash your vehicle weekly to remove salt and then wax it to protect the paint. Salt also leaves a coating on your headlights that can impair their proper functioning. This will make you less visible to other vehicles. 

Be sure you are prepared for winter weather driving BEFORE a storm. You may not plan to leave the house but if an emergency arises and you have to drive unexpectedly, you will want your vehicle prepared to make for safe travels.

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