Driving in snow and ice can be unpredictable and sometimes dangerous. Whether you’re a northerner with years of snow driving experience or someone who grips at the wheel in fear at the sign of a few flakes – now’s the time to bone up on your winter driving skills. Oftentimes, we think we know what to do during inclement weather conditions when we hit the roads. For your safety, here are a few reminders and to-dos before the next wintery mix falls.
Keep an Emergency Kit
In case of emergency, keep a few necessities handy for your safety. You’ll also want to keep a box with the following at all times:
Flashlight and backup batteries
Ice scraper and snow shovel
Jackets, gloves and scarves
You should always keep at least half a tank of gas in your car at all times. This will keep your engine performing better as well as keep your car running and warm if stuck on the road for an extended time. Remember to always keep your driving documents handy including licenses, roadside assistance numbers and insurance in case you need to call for help. If you’re a senior, make sure you keep a safety device or medical alert in the car in case of an emergency while on the go. Lastly, make sure your child’s car seat is installed properly by your local fire department for assurance and safety.
Maintain Car Upkeep
Before the icy weather lands, make sure your car maintenance is up to date. Check on oil changes, leaks and replace any worn car parts. Make sure you check your battery, engine oil, tires and windshield wipers. Also, be sure to check your antifreeze and wiper fluids to make sure nozzles aren’t frozen over. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) also recommends checking for recalls to catch potential safety issues early.
Most importantly, check on your tires. They’re the keys to making sure your car can brake and accelerate in winter weather. Check with your mechanic to make sure your tire has enough air and at least 2/32 of an inch tread for safe driving. Some cars come equipped with special features for wintery weather like traction settings, 4-wheel drive and so pay anti-locking brakes during icy conditions.
Know Before You Go
During the winter, keep up with weather alerts and temperatures. Freezing temperatures and precipitation could lead to dangerous road conditions. Install your local weather app for instant weather alerts, road reroutes and office closings. If conditions are bad, it’s best to stay off the roads. Don’t be in a rush – your safety is more important than being on time. Pack in plenty of time for traffic, road conditions and detours.
Before you begin your trip, make sure you warm up your car and check for all working signals. Don’t warm up your car in a garage because it could lead to carbon monoxide buildup. Clean your windows and windshield of any ice beforehand. Try using a mixture of rubbing alcohol and water to spray and wipe on windows to quickly defrost your windows.
If you must drive in winter weather, keep a few quick tips top of mind. Follow the common road and interstate reminders such as watching your speed and not driving too close. During winter weather, it’s best to follow six to eight seconds behind the car in front of you. Drive and stop slowly, and if it seems too dangerous, pullover. Avoid using cruise control so you have more control of the car and avoid stopping on hills – you may slide back. If.
It’s extremely important to be aware of black ice. If you hit a slippery spot while driving, do not hit the brakes. Take your foot off the gas and let your car move freely over the ice. Keep the steering wheel straight. If possible, head towards areas with traction for safety.
Remember, during inclement weather your safety is key. Pay attention to your local news and trust your gut. Keep your car in good working condition and practice safe driving for you and others on the road. The best advice to remember is this: if you don’t feel safe, don’t go.
Dashia researches and writes on all things home automation and security. She focuses on the latest news, products, and providers to share only the best with you.