With winter rapidly approaching and already making its presence felt in part of the US, it’s time for drivers to get their vehicles prepared so they can drive safe. All too often, winter is heralded by the sight of drivers careening their cars into other vehicles as they are ill-prepared for the slick road conditions. Quite often, video of the hapless drivers makes their way onto local and national television for the entertainment of the viewers.
Well, it may be funny to see others having a difficult time on the road, but the laughter ends when you are the one behind the wheel. So, to help you out here are 15 winter driving tips that will not only keep you safer on the road but also protect you from other dangers that the cold weather brings.
Table of Content
- Being Prepared
- Getting Stuck
Before you head out onto the snow and ice, you will need to be sure your vehicle is properly prepared so that you can drive safer and face unexpected conditions that might bring about more harm than you think.
Winterize Your Vehicle:
Change the oil, lube the axle, and check the fluids. The colder temperatures are harsher on engines, so you will need to make sure the fluids are at their recommended levels. This will help prevent breakdowns and keep you on the road.
Put in Winter Gear:
Put in a few items to keep you warm in case your vehicle gets stuck. This means a blanket or sleeping bag, emergency phone, water, hand and foot warmers, and a first aid kit just in case you need minor medical attention.
Open the Garage Door:
Before you start your vehicle, open the garage door if the car or truck is inside. Keeping the door closed means that carbon monoxide from the engine will build up inside your garage. To protect you, your family, and any pets in the garage, make sure the door is open before you start your vehicle.
Add Time to Your Driving Schedule:
Whatever the amount of time it normally takes you to get to your destination, you should probably double it on the first day of snow or ice. Having plenty of time means you are not worried about getting to work and you’ll naturally be more careful.
Now that you are out on the road, here are a few tips that will help keep you safe. While even the best drivers can get into accidents on slippery roads, you can avoid most situations if you keep careful when driving.
Keep a Modest Pace:
It may be tempting to speed up at times, but remember that the faster you go, the less control you have of stopping your vehicle in time. So, do not go any faster than you should, especially on icy roads where your steering control has been minimized.
Accelerate & Decelerate Slowly:
Remember, your tires do not have the same traction on snow and ice compared to a dry road. Keep that in mind at all times by speeding up and slowing down at a more deliberate pace.
Keep Braking to a Minimum:
Proper braking requires friction and roads with snow or ice have less of that available. So, you should think in terms of slowing down early before reaching a stop sign, traffic light, or having to turn. If you are faced with a situation where there is no time to brake, try to slowly turn and go around the obstacle instead.
Double the Distance:
Normally, you should keep a distance of four to five seconds behind another vehicle on dry roads. Increase that to eight to ten seconds on slick road conditions. Remember, the further away you are from other vehicles, the less likely you are to run into them or they run into you.
Turn Into the Direction of the Skid:
If you feel your vehicle going out of control which is typified by the rear end of the vehicle sliding one way or another, turn the wheels into the direction where your car or truck is heading. You will regain control of the vehicle and then can turn it back to where it needs to go. The slower your drive, the easier it will be to retain control and regain it in case you start to skid.
Do Not Stop Going Uphill:
If you are going uphill, do not stop. Stopping means that you lose momentum and your vehicle will start going downhill, often into other cars that are trying to go uphill. So, keep your cool and maintain a steady acceleration, and you’ll make it.
Make Things Easy:
Basically, you should operate and park your vehicle to minimize making turns or changes in direction. For example, park in a way that lets you drive straight out or make a wider turn if you can onto the next street.
Don’t Drive Unless Necessary:
The best way to avoid an accident on the snow and ice is not to be on the road in the first place. Remember, even if you consider yourself an expert on slick roads, many other drivers are not and they may crash into you. So, if a winter storm is approaching, get all the items you need beforehand and stay at home.
Despite following all the winter driving tips, you managed to get stuck alongside the road. Well, it happens even to the best drivers, so there is nothing to be ashamed about. However, you will need to follow a few tips in case this occurs.
Stay Inside Your Vehicle:
Your vehicle is your shelter, so stay inside it especially if the winds are howling. Remember that you can only run your engine for a certain period before it overheats, so start up your vehicle every 30 minutes or so and then shut it off after three to five minutes.
Don’t Overexert Yourself:
It is easy to get tired and even disoriented in cold weather. So, if you must go outside your vehicle, maintain a slow pace, so you don’t get exhausted. This is especially true when trying to free your car from the snow.
Have Rescuers Find You:
Use your emergency phone, tie a brightly colored cloth to your antenna, and keep the dome light on if possible so that rescue workers can find you in your vehicle.
By following these 15 winter driving advice, you can stay safe and minimize your chances of being involved in an accident.