Winter Weather Driving Tips
Do you live in a part of the country that experiences inclement weather such as heavy rain, snow and ice? Here are some winter weather driving tips that might save you some time and money. The most important thing is preparation. Take a look at your car, check the tire pressure, and check the treads. Check your wipers and fluids. Have your radiator and cooling system serviced. Simple maintenance can prevent many of the problems that strand motorists on the side of the road before you leave your home. Here are some other great tips to remember this winter.
- Check your emergency kit: Contents should include: battery powered radio, flashlight, blanket, jumper cables, fire extinguisher, first aid kit, bottled water, non-perishable foods, maps, tire repair kit and flares.
- Keep your eyes on the road: Distracted driving is a major cause of traffic accidents. Even just two seconds of distraction time doubles the chances of an accident. Use your cell phone when stopped and never text while driving.
- Avoid extreme weather conditions: Ice, hail and snow make roads difficult to travel. Try to avoid driving through extreme weather conditions, and travel during daylight.
- Remove ice and snow from your vehicle: Clear your windows and roof of snow to insure you have maximum visibility and avoid creating a hazard for the vehicle behind you. Don't allow ice and snow to create additional blind spots on your vehicle.
- Buckle up: Safety belts reduce the risk of fatal injury by 45 percent and are a simple way to increase your safety on the road.
If you are stopped or stalled in wintry weather, follow these safety rules:
- Stay with your car and don't overexert yourself.
- Put bright markers on the antenna or windows and keep the interior dome light turned on.
- To avoid asphyxiation from carbon monoxide poisoning, don't run your car for long periods of time with the windows up or in an enclosed space. If you must run your vehicle, clear the exhaust pipe of any snow and run it only sporadically — just long enough to stay warm.
Protect Yourself and Your Loved Ones
- Remember to always wear your seat belt. Ensure that everyone else in your vehicle is buckled up in age- and size-appropriate restraints. Remember that children under age 13 should be properly restrained in the back seat.
- Do not text or engage in any other activities that may distract you while driving.
- While thick outerwear will keep your children warm, it can also interfere with the proper harness fit of your child in his/her car seat. Instead place blankets around your child after the harness is snug and secure.
- Never leave your child unattended in or around your vehicle. Always remember to lock your vehicle when exiting so children do not play or get trapped inside.
Stay Vigilant While Driving
- Keep your gas tank close to full, even with a hybrid-electric vehicle. If you get stuck in a traffic jam or in snow, you might need more fuel than you anticipated to get home or to keep warm.
- If road conditions are hazardous, avoid driving if possible. Wait until road and weather conditions improve before venturing out in your vehicle.
Driving in Winter Conditions
- Drive slowly. It's harder to control or stop your vehicle on a slick or snow-covered surface. On the road, increase your following distance enough so that you'll have plenty of time to stop for vehicles ahead of you.
- A word of caution about braking: Know what kind of brakes your vehicle has and how to use them properly. In general, if you have antilock brakes, apply firm, continuous pressure. If you don't have antilock brakes, pump the brakes gently.
- If you find yourself in a skid, stay calm and ease your foot off the gas while carefully steering in the direction you want the front of your vehicle to go. This steering maneuver may require additional counter-steering before you can regain full control of the vehicle. Continue to stay off the pedals (gas and brake) until you are able to regain control of your vehicle.
Navigating Around Snow Plows
- Don't crowd a snow plow or travel beside it. Snow plows travel slowly, make wide turns, stop often, overlap lanes, and exit the road frequently.
- The road behind an active snow plow is safer to drive on. If you find yourself behind a snow plow, stay behind it or use caution when passing.
- When you are driving behind a snow plow, don't follow or stop too closely. A snow plow operator's field-of-vision is limited; if you can't see the mirrors, the driver can't see you. Also, materials used to de-ice the road could hit your vehicle.
- Snow plows can throw up a cloud of snow that can reduce your visibility to zero in less time than you can react. Never drive into a snow cloud — it can conceal vehicles or hazards.