The seasons are changing, it’s time to put those t-shirts and flip flops in storage and grab that winter coat and boots. Cozy? Perfect, now let’s talk about how to prepare for driving in winter conditions. While, you may not live where it snows, it is still important to be prepared for icy conditions that may not be visible immediately as well to prepare for any holiday road trips. No matter where you live, we will go over driving safety tips that are important to know when driving in the winter.
Have your car serviced before winter conditions begin! Or if you don’t live where it snows, but plan on taking a road trip, get your car serviced before leaving! When it comes to driving in the winter, it is best to prepare your car before hazardous conditions occur.
First test your battery, as your battery power will decrease as temperatures drop.
Next, make the change to winter tires that have a deeper and more flexible tread. Or, if you use all season tires, check the tread before the winter begins.
As well, check your tire pressure as it will likely decrease as temperatures drop.
Don’t forget to check your wiper blades to make sure they are functioning properly.
We recommend you carry a bag of sand, and a shovel. This will help you get your car unstuck if it were to get stuck in the snow.
Lastly, try not to let your gas tank drop below half in an effort to prevent your gas line from freezing. Half full is the new empty!
Keep an emergency pack in your car at all times. This can include warm clothing, spare food and water, flashlights, blankets, and any other items necessary for your daily health.
Let’s start simple. Don’t drive faster than the speed limit. It is harder to control your vehicle when there are snowy or icy conditions. Not to be the bearer of bad news but snowy, icy and slushy conditions cause over 1,300 traffic deaths a year in the United States. Drive slow and don’t tailgate or attempt to pass other drivers. As well, we recommend you only drive when it’s absolutely necessary.
Some other tips include using AWD or 4WD when possible and never to use cruise control.
Always be on the lookout, whether it be for deers, black ice or snow plows. Make sure you are driving at a slow enough speed where if these obstacles are present you can safely avoid them.
There are a million tips we can give you about how to stay safe when driving in winter conditions, but we have narrowed it down to a few that we know will be the most useful.
Have children? Let’s talk about keeping them safe. In cold climates, it’s likely your child is wearing a puffy jacket. Puffy jackets can block the harness of car seats from latching correctly. So if you have young children in car seats it may be best to instead dress them in thin warm clothing and attach the harness. Once the harness is secure, use those blankets you have on hand to provide extra warmth for your child.
Second, know your brakes. When braking, have the heel of your foot on the floor and the ball of your foot on the break. Make sure when you brake, you apply steady and firm pressure.
If you don’t need to stop, then don’t! If you’re approaching a traffic light and can roll without completely stopping that is best. The amount of force that is required to go from a full stop to moving is significantly more powerful. If you can slow to a roll, we recommend that. But of course be safe, don’t roll through red lights or stop signs.
Don’t use full force when driving uphill. When you apply too much gas on icy roads, there is always the chance that your wheels will spin. Try to have previous inertia guide you up the hill and not start from a dead stop. When going downhill, reduce your speed and proceed down slowly. Try not to start from a full stop whenever you’re going up or down hill. Again, be safe and follow all traffic laws.
Increase your following distance to at least 8 seconds, so you have plenty of time to stop or avoid any obstacles that may arise. If visibility is very low, pull over! Try not to pull over into the shoulder, but find a safe place you can rest until conditions improve.
Now these are just a few general reminders and safety tips for anytime you are driving in icy and snowy conditions. Next we will focus on safety and tips when it comes to long road trips.
With the holiday season coming up, it is very likely that you may be traveling long distances in snowy and icy conditions. Prepare a winter kit for your car. This can include several things:
And anything else you may need, if you were to have to spend an extended period of time in your vehicle. Such as medications and so forth.
Once you have prepared your car for the trip, do some other prep work. Such as checking the weather on your route before heading out on the road. If hazardous weather is expected, delay your trip. As well, let others know your plans. Tell a few loved ones or friends when you plan on leaving, the route you plan on taking and your destination and expected travel time. Location tracking apps can be useful.
What happens if you do happen to get stuck in the snow? First, STAY IN YOUR VEHICLE! Do not walk away from your vehicle, as your vehicle will provide you protection from the elements and make it easier to find you. If you do need to dig out your car, do not overexert yourself. If you’re tired, then stop! Also, be visible! Carry a brightly colored garment with you that you can tie to the antenna to be spotted easier.
Make sure your exhaust pipe is clear. Check to see if it is clogged with snow, mud ,etc. If it is, please make sure to clear it.
Try to stay warm, insulate your body by any means possible. Try to pre pack blankets, but if you don’t have any, use whatever you can. This could be floor mats, newspapers, etc. As well, try your best to conserve fuel. Only run your engine and/or heater when absolutely necessary.
To summarize, we focused on how to prepare for winter conditions before heading out on the road. Went over some basic tips for driving in the snow. Then we looked more into preparing for long winter road trips. Hopefully this blog provided you with some valuable tips and pointers. We know this probably didn’t cover everything needed to prepare for winter driving, so we encourage you to do other research as well. Though, I do hope this article did provide you some value.
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