Winter weather can make driving a scary and dangerous undertaking even for the best of drivers out there. What exactly do drivers have to contend with? Drivers face winter storms or blizzards, sloppy or icy road conditions, and unforeseen conditions that could turn a simple trip into a nightmare journey. Unfortunately, thousands of crashes occur each year during the winter. It may seem like a no-brainer that drivers should know and practice being cautious when driving in winter conditions. However, in case you need to be reminded of some safety rules to avoid the hazards of winter driving, take note of these useful tips.
Prepare Before You Head Out in Cold Weather
You should never head out on the road during winter without your cold-weather gear packed away in your vehicle. This should include at least additional food and water, warm clothing, a flashlight, a glass scraper, a snow shovel, booster cables, blankets, emergency candles, and medications. Check to ensure that your tires are fully inflated and have adequate tread. Keep fuel levels high-full or at least half. It is dangerous to warm up your car in an enclosed space, like a garage. Never do it. Cruise control should never be used on slippery surfaces.
Slow it Down
Winter driving requires you to drive slowly, reducing your speed to about half the posted speed limit and sometimes even lower, depending on the road condition. Keep traction reduction in mind, and pay attention to overpasses, bridges, and ramps, which tend to freeze first. When accelerating and decelerating, do so slowly. You must adjust your speed accordingly when driving in ice and snow to counter reduced tire traction. If you find that you have lost traction, slowly apply gas to regain it and minimize the chance of skids. Slow down significantly for turns and stop lights/stop signs. When traveling in snowy conditions, increase your following distance by roughly 5 to 6 seconds, essentially giving yourself a longer distance to stop.
Make Vehicle Maintenance a Priority
Your vehicle needs to be ready to go on the road in winter and also to ensure your safety. That is why vehicle maintenance is crucial for winter travel, whether it’s for your regular commute to work or a trip across state lines. Check oil and antifreeze levels, tire treads and pressure, brakes, and your emergency supplies. Slips and slides are more likely to occur with worn tires so ensure that your tires’ thread count is at the recommended level. Ensure that your tires are fully inflated since tire pressure will decrease 1-2 pounds of pressure every 10-degree drop in temperature. When it comes to your brakes, do not ignore them if you hear squeaking.
Practice Defensive Driving
When driving in winter weather, you have to be even more alert and engaged with what’s going on around you. Avoid quick, jerky movements or slamming on the brakes, and go slowly, so you can gain traction, but also keep an eye on the speed of other drivers to avoid accidents. Reduce your radio volume and listen to the road so you can identify when the road has changed from snow to ice. There is usually a loud noise when tires go over snow and that noise is not the same on icy roads. It’s also good to keep the radio volume down to hear winter advisory. Limit distractions and keep your hands on the wheel and eyes on the road.
Check the Weather and Stay Connected
Without warning, winter weather can change in an instant. If you are on the road and have no clue what the day’s weather will be, you could find yourself in a predicament. It’s good practice to check the weather on your travel route so you can be aware of weather conditions that would warrant a change of plans. Bad winter weather often forces people to delay or postpone a trip. Let family or close friends know your travel plans, including route, destination, and expected time of arrival.
When preparing your vehicle for winter weather, ensure that you have all the auto parts for it to run smoothly. Visit a Robertson’s Auto Salvage for updated auto parts so that your vehicle will be ready to take on the winter roads. Your safety is a priority. Give us a call today at 508-295-9444.