Now that winter is upon us, it should be a priority to prepare for hazardous winter driving conditions. This is especially true for folks living in areas that are not used to these types of conditions. For those of you that are used to heavy snow and colder temperatures, you should take a minute to review these following recommendations as well.
Everyday Winter/Driving Tips
- Getting the proper amount of rest before getting behind the wheel of any vehicle is extremely important. Always avoid driving while you’re fatigued no matter what the driving conditions are. Driving in winter conditions will increase the required attention to detail in order to avoid an accident.
- You should only warm your vehicle in a well ventilated area and never inside an enclosed building or garage. It is also important to follow local laws restricting warming and unattended vehicle.
- Tires are your contact with the surface you are driving on so properly inflated, well maintained tires with good tread are essential.
- You should never mix radial tires with other types of tires. Installing the OEM recommended size and type of tire will ensure proper handling and will eliminate a risk to harming your vehicle.
- Keep tire chains or straps in your vehicle. Note: Some local laws require approved tire chains/straps in order to operate your vehicle in certain areas. If you do not comply, you may be subjected to a hefty fine!!
- You should always try to keep your gas tank at least half full to avoid gas line freeze-up.
- Make sure your fluid levels are topped off and tested/certified for below freezing weather.
- Check to make sure windshield wiper blades are functioning and in good shape.
- Setting your parking brake in cold, rainy and snowy weather should be avoided if at all possible. The freezing weather and precipitation such as snow could cause the brake to freeze in place until thawed.
- You should never use cruise control when driving on any slippery surface such as ice, snow rain and even loose gravel/sand.
- You should put on your seat belt every time you get into your vehicle. It’s the law !! If your vehicle is equipped with Safety Restraint Systems (SRS Airbags), you should also make sure your systems are properly functioning.
- Always keep an Emergency Kit in your vehicle that may contain important items such as warning triangles, flares, small tool kit, tape, knife etc.
Long Distance Winter Driving Trips
- Always make sure you have your trip properly mapped out. You should watch weather reports prior to departing on a long-distance drive or before driving in isolated areas. If possible, delay your trip when bad weather is imminent. If you cannot avoid departing, let others know your route, your destination and estimated time of arrival.
- Always make sure your vehicle is in peak operating condition by having it inspected by an Auto Repair facility.
- If you have a cellular phone, always make sure to keep a car charger or an external charger ( battery Pack ) with you. Make sure your phone is fully charged prior to departing.
- It is important to keep blankets, gloves, hats, a change of dry clothing including socks and outerwear, emergency nonperishable food, drinking water and any required medication in your vehicle in case you are stranded.
- If you become stranded in the snow or any other wintry conditions, stay with your vehicle. Your vehicle may be your only shelter until you are rescued and makes it easier for rescuers to locate you. Do NOT walk in a severe snow storm. It’s easy to lose sight of your vehicle in blowing snow and you may become lost.
- You should never over exert yourself especially in very cold conditions if you try to push or dig your vehicle out of the snow.
- To help in locating you in potentially deep snow, you should tie a brightly colored cloth to the antenna or place a cloth at the top of a rolled up window to signal distress. At night, keep the dome light on if possible. It only uses a small amount of electricity and will make it easier for rescuers to find you.
- Before you start your engine, make sure the exhaust pipe isn’t clogged with snow, ice or mud. If your exhaust pipe is blocked, the exhaust will cause deadly carbon monoxide gas to begin leak into the passenger compartment with the engine running and cause death.
- If needed and if possible, run the engine and heater just long enough to remove the chill and to conserve gasoline.
- If you have not packed extra outerwear to keep you warm from the elements, you should use whatever is available to insulate your body from the cold. This could include floor mats, newspapers and so on.
Driving In Snowy Conditions? These Tips are important !
- Drive slowly!! Plan on a longer drive when on snow-covered roads. When accelerating, stopping or turning , you must understand nothing happens as quickly as it does on dry pavement. You MUST Give yourself time to maneuver by driving slowly. You need to keep your distance between other drivers. During normal driving conditions, a distance of three to five seconds is required so increasing to ten seconds would be advisable. Giving yourself a longer distance to stop safely gives you and the vehicle in front of you time to maneuver in situations that happen quickly.
- Always accelerate and decelerate slowly. When applying the gas slowly to accelerate, it will allow you time for regaining traction and avoiding skids. Don’t try to get moving in a hurry. Always take time to slow down for a stoplight or any intersection where you are required to stop or yield. It takes longer to slow down on icy roads.
- Understand your braking system. Whether you have antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is threshold breaking. Keep the heel of your foot on the floor and use the ball of your foot to apply firm, steady pressure on the brake pedal.
- Try not to stop if you can avoid it. There’s a huge difference in the amount of inertia it takes to start moving from a full stop versus how much it takes to get moving while still rolling. If you can slow down enough to keep rolling until a traffic light changes or your next turn in line, do it.
- Do not fully accelerate up hills. Heavy acceleration on snow-covered roads will cause your wheels to begin spinning and reduce traction. Try to get a little inertia going before you reach the hill and let that inertia carry you to the top. As you reach the crest of the hill, reduce your speed and proceed down hill as slowly as possible.
- NEVER stop while going up a hill. There’s nothing worse than trying to get moving up a hill on an icy road. Get as much inertia going on a flat roadway before you begin the ascent up the hill.
- If you do not have to be out, STAY HOME !! If you really don’t have to go out, then don’t. Even if you think you can drive well in the snow, not everyone else can.
- Do Not Take any chance ! If you don’t have somewhere you have to be, stay indoors. Check with your employer to confirm the protocol to follow for non-essential and essential employees during these weather events. You may have to take a vacation day however its worth not causing property damage or losing your life.
So, If you take the time to prepare your vehicle and go over these items each winter driving season, it could save yours or someone else’s life.