Winter Driving Safety Tips

Posted on Dec 22, 2017

Winter Driving Safety Tips

Driving in severe weather conditions can be both dangerous and frightening. When heading out in harsh weather, you need to be prepared so you can effectively and safely handle winter road emergencies. AAA advises drivers to stay cautious when you’re driving in severe winter weather.

Even an experienced driver can find it challenging to drive in winter weather safely. After months of conditions that were mild, it’s easy to forget that with ice and snow, you have to slow down, drive carefully and prepare your vehicle. And, according to the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), since winter conditions cause around 17 percent of all automobile crashes, it’s understandable why everyone should refresh themselves on how to drive through winter conditions safely.

Here are a few winter driving safety tips to put into practice this season.

Watch the Weather

Check weather websites or your local news station for updates on conditions and potential road hazards. You may even want to receive weather text alerts straight to your phone, but, of course, don’t check these messages while you’re driving.

Get Yourself Ready

Remember to slow down. Controlling and stopping your car becomes more of a challenge when you’re out on snow-covered, slick roads or roads laden with black ice. Give yourself plenty of following room between your car and the car ahead of you so you’ll have enough time to stop if needed.

Keep in mind; each vehicle will handle differently, especially when driving on icy, snowy or wet roads. Be sure to learn how to control your vehicle in winter conditions and how to drive on ice before you set out. Plan out your route based on traffic and weather conditions. Leave early since you’ll be driving slower than normal. This is an especially important tip for new drivers who aren’t experienced in driving in snow.

Get Your Vehicle Ready

Safe driving starts even before you get out on the roads. No matter what season it is, nobody wants their vehicle to break down. However, this is even more important when it’s snowy and cold outside. Ensure your car is ready by:

  • Taking it to a mechanic for routine maintenance.
  • Ask the mechanic to check for badly worn hoses, tire, leaks and other necessary parts, replacements, and

During the wintertime, pay particular attention to your car’s coolant, wipers, tires, battery and other systems that a temperature drop could harm. Have snow tires installed before the first snowfall if you plan on using them. Once ready to drive, make sure you clear your vehicle of all ice, snow, and dirt from the headlights, roof, windows, tail lights, forward sensors and backup camera.

Prevent Crashes

Prevent crashes by:

  • Avoiding alcohol and drugs when driving or plan on driving.
  • Watching for pedestrians out walking across roads.
  • Increasing distance between vehicles and slowing down.
  • Designating a sober driver if you do plan on drinking.
  • Avoid fatigue by getting plenty of sleep before you travel.

Things You Should Have in your Car for Winter Driving

Some essential items to have in your car include:

  • Emergency Kit.  Get an emergency kit prepared and include things like gloves, coats and phone chargers. The NHTSA suggests flares, blankets, a snow shovel, and sand. Bring along water, food, and medication if you’re going on a long trip.
  • A Small Tool Kit.  With a small tool kit, you’ll be able to repair any problems on your vehicle that are minor by yourself. Ensure you have all the necessary tools to be at least able to tighten or loosen bolts and change a tire.
  • Dried Food. Pack some foods like granola bars or beef jerky in your car for emergency situations. You can also store water in your car, but keep in mind it will likely freeze.
  • A Flashlight.  If you end up stuck on the side of the road at night, you’ll need a way to alert other drivers, especially if the roads are slippery. Like flares, a flashlight can help you warn oncoming traffic that you’re there and to take caution when driving by or you can flag them down for help.
  • Extra Batteries.  Make sure you pack some spare batteries for your flashlight.
  • An Emergency Escape Tool. In an emergency situation, an emergency escape tool can potentially save your life. It’s an inexpensive and simple tool that fits inside your glove compartment.

Remember, even experienced drivers can have a difficult time driving in harsh weather when road conditions are poor. So, slow down, wear your seatbelt, allow yourself enough time to stop your vehicle, be aware of condition changes and keep your full attention on the roads while driving. These winter driving tips for driving in snow can help keep you safe when you’re out there in the harsh elements.

Also, be sure that your auto insurance is up-to-date in the event that you have a winter weather accident.  Contact us to review your policy.

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