Safe Winter Driving Tips
Winter weather conditions can make traveling dangerous for even the most seasoned driver. However, there are some way that drivers can mitigate the risk factors and help ensure safer travel in order to reduce the risk of a car accident.
One of the best things a driver can do is be prepared. For example, if the weather report indicates that conditions may be treacherous, it is best to stay off the roads if possible. However, if one absolutely has to make a trip when conditions are dangerous, make sure that others know the route you’re planning to take and how long you expect it to take to arrive at your destination. That way, if you are involved in an accident or run into other trouble, it will be easier for emergency workers to find you.
Additionally, it’s a good idea to bring your car to a mechanic to make sure it’s in good condition to handle the winter roads. A breakdown could prove disastrous if it happens when it’s bitterly cold outside. Your mechanic will check to see that hoses, belts, and spark plugs are in good shape. It’s also best to routinely check tire pressure because tire pressure often drops in colder conditions. Also, it is important to keep the gas tank as close to full as possible to prevent a gas line freeze-up. Make sure that the rear window defroster and windshield wipers are in good working order and that you have plenty of windshield wiper fluid to allow for maximum visibility.
Even if your mechanic has given your car a thorough inspection and says everything looks good, it’s still smart to keep your car stocked with supplies that will keep you safe until help arrives. Things like extra blankets, extra gloves, flashlights and batteries, non-perishable food, and bottles of water are all excellent things to keep on hand.
There are also many safe driving tips that one should practice when driving in snowy or icy conditions. Most importantly, leave early, drive slowly, and remember that things such as accelerating and decelerating can take longer than they would when roads are clear. Be sure to increase your following distance to eight to ten seconds to ensure that you have time to brake and bring your vehicle to a complete stop. It’s also important to know how to brake properly. Whether your vehicle has antilock brakes or not, the best way to stop is to keep one’s heel on the floor and apply a firm, constant pressure until the vehicle comes to a complete stop.
Finally, it is extremely important to use caution when driving up hills while the roads are snowy. Don’t try to accelerate too much while heading up hills because applying extra gas when the roads are covered in snow and ice can cause tires to spin because they can’t get traction and gravity is working against them. Try to get up to speed before reaching the hill and let inertia bring the car to the top. Then, reduce speed as the car descends. However, try not to stop while going up a hill because it will be hard to gain inertia on an icy hill after it is lost.
Winter weather conditions greatly increase the risk of a car accident happening. Stay safe on the road this winter by keeping these tips in mind!