The weather can get you down and in the ditches if you aren’t careful this winter season. Are you driving around town to finish up last-minute work errands? Or cruising over the river and through the woods to your grandparent’s house? Whatever reason has you out and about from America’s highways to byways during the winter weather, keep these winter driving safety tips in mind:
Prepping Before Traveling
Before you face any winter weather, you need to take a few precautionary measures to help you make the most of the roads. Start by switching out your blue windshield washer fluid for the orange stuff. The orange washer fluid is made for sub-zero and single-digit temps. Before you put the pedal to the metal, check your tires for proper inflation and any worn out spots. If you live in a cold weather climate, then your vehicle should have all-season tires that are built for cold, snow, and slick conditions. In an emergency kit, stash the following supplies:
- A first-aid kit
- A knife
- An extra change of seasonal clothing
- Jumper cables
- A spare tire and jack
- A shovel
- Unscented votive candles for light and warmth
- A tow strap
- A traction aid, i.e. sand
- Reflective plastic triangles
- Warm blankets and reflective space blankets
You should verify that everything is in your kit before any travels, as some may have been removed or used by others who are traveling or working with you. Additionally, you want to have food and water in your car. Include nonperishable items, such as peanut butter or snack crackers, and pop-top cans of ready-to-eat protein sources, such as tuna or beans. Check your food supplies before every trip to ensure they haven’t spoiled, spilled or expanded. For instance, bottled water can freeze in plastic bottles causing the bottle to crack and leak over time.
Hitting the Road
Whether you are driving to and from work, or simply running to the store for a last-minute food item, clean any snow or ice from your car. This includes wiping snow off of your head lamps and taillights, as well as cleaning snow from the top of your vehicle. Otherwise, you can create a hazard for ongoing traffic. When starting out on the road, go slow and steady with your acceleration to prevent your wheels from spinning. Drive like you would if your grandmother was in the passenger seat, which should mean that you are going slow and steady, while giving yourself ample time to come to a stop. This will help you prepare for any unexpected ice or cars careening into your side of the road. Here’s another tip for automobiles without anti-lock brakes: If you find yourself in a slippery spot, pump your brakes (instead of slamming them down) to prevent them from locking up.
Other Winter Driving Tips
If you can wait until bad weather passes, then by all means you should. Contact your employer before braving bad weather in order to go into work. They may have called a late start to the work day, or called off coming in altogether, for those experiencing dangerous weather conditions. When it comes to winter weather, the worst thing you can do is try to pretend it’s not out there. So, stay safe and keep those around you safe with these winter driving safety tips!