Winter Weather Driving: Tips to Stay Safe
Winter weather is beautiful to look at but it takes on a different meaning when you have to drive in it. Weather and road conditions in winter can be hazardous in the extreme.
For your safety and the safety of other drivers around you, it’s important to know and use these winter driving safety tips.
1. Ensure Your Tires Are Properly Inflated
As temperatures drop, you need to adjust your tire inflation. Slick roads require as much friction as possible to maximize vehicle control.
In winter, you should use a tire pressure gauge to adjust your tires’ inflation to the minimum recommended so that more of the tire surface is in contact with the road.
If you’re uncomfortable using a tire pressure gauge, an auto garage technician can perform this service for you.
2. Get a Winter Vehicle Checkup
Before winter fully hits, bring your vehicle in to Todd's Auto Body for a winter checkup. The checkup will include things like battery power, tire tread levels, antifreeze, radiator hoses, heater function and exhaust function.
If your technician suggests replacements, refills or new parts, be sure to get them done as soon as possible.
3. Drive Sober and Awake
Sober doesn’t just mean no alcohol. It’s important to drive clear-headed in every way.
That means getting plenty of sleep, avoiding alcohol and drugs and avoiding driving when you’re stressed or angry about something.
The reason is that any of these deficiencies can lead to erratic driving, impulsive steering or other actions that endanger you and other vehicles on the road.
4. Be Prepared for Emergencies
Tips for driving in snow include keeping an emergency supply box in your car where you can get to it without exiting your vehicle. If you’re stuck in a situation (such as a snow bank), where your car doors won’t open, you’ll still be able to reach your supplies.
Inside the supply box keep:
- bottled water
- scarf (in case you need to cover your nose or mouth, or wave it for help)
- food (granola bars, glucose bars, beef jerky, nuts, etc.)
- flashlight and extra batteries
- baby food (if relevant)
- tissues, diapers (if relevant)
- first aid supplies
5. Join a Roadside Assistance Service
Being a member of a roadside assistance service such as OnStar or Allstate is invaluable during wintertime. If you get so much as a flat tire or run out of gas, these services will come to your aid as soon as possible.
They’ll bring you and your vehicle to an auto body shop such as Todd’s Auto Body so your vehicle can be repaired. They’ll also help if you have a medical situation as a result of your roadside incident.
6. Keep Your Tank Full
In winter, it’s especially important to keep your tank at least half full.
When you let it fall below that, you run the risk of fuel line freeze-up, which can lead to inconvenient and costly repairs.
7. Use a Fog Deterrent Spray on Windshield
Rain and fog deterrent sprays help keep windshield visibility to a maximum. They also help to keep wet snow from sticking to your windshield.
You can pick up these sprays at any auto parts store and apply them yourself.
8. Wash Your Car Routinely
Many people forego car washes in the wintertime, but this is a mistake. When you drive around with snow and ice stuck to your vehicle, it’s harder to identify your car against the backdrop of a white landscape.
Keep your car washed routinely and you’ll improve your safety as well as as the luster and sheen of your car’s paint.
9. Avoid Cruise Control on Slick Roads
When driving in active weather conditions (rain, sleet or snow is coming down), don’t use your cruise control. Avoid using cruise control on slick roads or where there are icy patches.
The milliseconds it takes to resume manual control of your speed could be the difference between having an accident or not.
10. Use Your Seat Belts
Only a few states don’t have a seatbelt law. But even if it’s legal to drive without one, use your seatbelts in the winter at least.
Accidents happen quickly and a seatbelt could save your life and the lives of your loved ones.
11. Don’t Buy Used Tires
If you need one or more new tires, don’t be tempted to buy used. The extra savings isn’t worth it when you consider the risk and the shortened lifetime of the tire.
In addition, never mix radial tires with other tire types. This can negatively impact everything from your drive train to your handling ability.
When possible, keep all tires the same type and brand.
12. Get Car Repairs Done ASAP
If you do have an accident, be sure to get your auto body repairs done as soon as you can. Driving a vehicle with body damage is dangerous.
There could be underlying mechanical issues from the accident that can only be determined during the repair process.
13. Don’t Warm Your Car in a Garage
Understandably, you’d like your car to be warm when you get inside. This is why automatic vehicle starters are so popular.
However, don’t warm your car while it’s parked in a garage or any other confined space. It takes only minutes for carbon monoxide to build up, which can be deadly.
Instead, pull your car out to an open space and then warm it up if you want.
14. Learn How to Steer Out of a Skid or Slip
Finally, one of the most important tips for driving on ice is how to steer out of a skid or slip.
First, look where you want to go. Second, steer into the skid or slip. If your back end is sliding left, turn your steering wheel to the left.
At the same time, lightly tap your brakes to slow down the momentum of the slide. As soon as you regain control, lightly tap the accelerator to bring the vehicle into alignment with the road again.
When on the road in winter, keep these winter driving safety tips in mind. If you’re ever in doubt as to the safety of your travel route, make the wise choice and stay home.