Now that the weather is cooling down and we are nearing the winter season, snow, rain, ice, and dangerous road conditions are in our future and, as drivers, it is our responsibility to take extra precautions to avoid a disastrous or fatal accident. It is estimated that one out of every four weather-related crashes is related to snow or icy roads, so do what you can to make your winter traveling plans safer by preparing your car in advance, checking the forecast, and driving with caution.
We have prepared a list of tips that will help you drive safely this winter season:
- Prepare your vehicle: Do you have a survival kit in your car? If you do not, now is the time to make sure you equip your car with one to ensure you are prepared when winter weather strikes while you are on the road. Your kit should include an ice scraper, a snow shovel, and sand or salt. You should also examine your tires to see if it is time to replace them or if you are in need of snow tires. Additionally, try to make a habit out of keeping your gas tank at least half full, so you can run your engine to stay warm if you get stuck or stranded.
- Watch the weather: If you are planning to travel when it is apparent that inclement weather is inevitable, monitor road and weather conditions by checking the local news stations, internet traffic, and weather sites. It would also be wise to sign up for weather alerts, so you can receive important text messages regarding the weather and any dangerous road conditions. Just make sure you never check your phone while driving and to eliminate distractions while driving. Assign the task of weather-monitoring to a passenger.
- Drive for weather conditions: Before you even begin to leave the parking lot or your driveway, take a moment to clear the snow and ice from your car, including the mirrors, lights, reflectors, windows, hood, roof and trunk. You should also remember to always drive with your headlights on and ensure they are kept clean to improve visibility. Once you are on the road, remember that the posted speed limits are intended for dry weather and not for roads that are covered in snow and ice, so you should reduce your speed.
- Breaking down and getting stuck: In the event that you do end up getting caught in a snowstorm and encounter some problems, stay in your car and wait for help if it is safely out of harm’s way. You can run a car’s heater to stay warm for ten minutes every hour as long as you make sure the exhaust pipe is clear of snow. If snow blocks your pipe, deadly gas will build up in your car and put you at risk for carbon monoxide poisoning.
Wintertime can be dangerous even for the most experienced drivers, so make sure that you exercise extra caution and care in everything you do and never drive while distracted or under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
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