Winter driving this time of year generally means snow, sleet, and icy roads between you and your destination. These poor driving conditions result in more than 116,000 injuries each year. When winter weather hits, here are some tips to ensure you arrive safely to your destination.
- Prepare your Vehicle. Keep up-to-date on routine maintenance, including brakes, fluids, and oil changes to lessen the chances of becoming stranded due to a mechanical issue. If your wiper blades are worn, replace them so the entire windshield can be cleared of snow, ice, salt, and dirt.
- Keep Fluids Full. It’s important to keep your gas and washer fluid tanks at last half full to prevent condensation from forming and potentially freezing.
- Keep your Vehicle Clean. If you leave your car outside during a storm, clear it off completely before hitting the road. Snow blowing off your hood and roof can impact the visibility of drivers behind you; and blowing ice can severally damage other vehicles.Also, salt and grime can lower the effectiveness of your headlights, wipe them down periodically to allow full visibility.
- Consider Winter Tires. If you drive a lot in the winter, consider a full set of winter tires, which have aggressive tread patterns. They also stay flexible at lower temperatures to allow for greater control when accelerating, braking, and turning. Even at low speeds, winter tires can bring a vehicle to a complete stop 30 feet sooner than all-season tires.
- Carry a Winter Emergency Kit. An emergency kit that includes food, clothing, and a fully-charged cellphone can keep you safe while waiting for assistance. Full kits can be purchased online, or view our recommendations for a winter driving kit.
- Don’t Rush. Allow yourself extra time to reach your destination. Average speeds on roads are as much as 40 percent slower when snowy, icy or slushy, and require significantly more stopping distance. Increase your distance from the vehicle in front of you to allow for braking or lane changes, should the vehicle stop quickly or lose control.
- Stay back from Snow Plows. If snow plows are a common sight on your commute, stay back at least five to 10 car lengths to allow plows road to spread salt, gravel and chemicals. Plows also have large blind spots and the driver may not see you, so never attempt to pass a plow.
- Prevent or Manage a Skid. To stay in control of your vehicle during a skid, accelerate slowly and smoothly. If your vehicle has four-wheel drive (FWD) or all-wheel drive (AWD), it will help prevent wheels from spinning during acceleration. However, FWD and AWD will not help with brake or cornering.If you do lose control of your vehicle, turn the wheel toward the skid, and take your foot off the accelerator.