Expert Driving Tips For When You Are Behind The Wheel This Winter

Statistically speaking, winter is one of the most dangerous seasons for driving. Almost a quarter of the accidents that are caused by weather are the result of snow or ice on the road. Winter weather conditions can reduce visibility and can make it harder to stop. Combined, all of these factors increase the likelihood of an accident taking place.

Unfortunately, it is not always possible to stay home when the weather is bad. If you do have to head out on the roads during the winter, it is important to take steps to properly prepare. The tips and suggestions below will help improve your chances of staying safe on wintry roads.

Getting Your Car Ready

Safe winter driving starts by properly preparing your vehicle. Invest in a good ice scraper to keep your windows clear. You should also put a shovel and a bag of sand or kitty litter in the trunk to help you break free in case your car gets stuck in the snow. You may also want to look into investing in a good set of snow tires for your vehicle since they can provide you with the traction you need to stay safe. Making sure you have the proper tires for the weather conditions you live in can help you avoid getting stuck and needing roadside assistance to change a flat tire in a wintry mess.

Preparation doesn't end there. You should keep an eye on your gas tank to make sure that it doesn't get too empty. That way, you can keep your vehicle running to stay warm if you happen to get stuck. You definitely don’t want to run out of gas in inclement weather. You should also check your washer fluid regularly to make sure that you can keep your windshield free from ice, frost, or snow. Pay close attention to the washer fluid you use. Some are formulated especially for arctic temps, others may freeze in extreme low temperatures.

Staying Informed

Before heading out, always check the weather report to find out what road conditions are like. There are many online resources that can provide you with up-to-the-minute information. You may even want to consider signing up for automatic alerts in case of bad weather. Just remember, you should always pull off the road before looking at your phone even if you get a notification.

Safe Driving Techniques For The Winter

Via Wikimedia.org

Never drive unless your windshield is completely clear. You should also take the time to remove any snow or ice from your headlights, mirrors, and the top of your vehicle. Make sure that your headlights are illuminated the entire time you are on the road. Also, be aware of the likelihood of decreased visibility in areas where there are large piles of snow next to the road.

You may need to drive slower than the speed limit during the winter, depending on the condition of the roads. Be sure to leave enough room between you and the vehicle in front of you if the roads are icy or if visibility is low. Never rely on your vehicle's cruise control when roads are bad. If you are approaching a bridge or an overpass, be extra aware of the road conditions. They often freeze over when other parts of the road are clear. Finally, never try to pass a sanding/brine vehicle or a snow plow since the road conditions in front of them may be far worse.

Dealing With Being Stuck

Unfortunately, there are situations where you may find yourself stuck in your vehicle during the winter. If this happens you, try to keep a level head and make sure that your vehicle is safely off the road. The best way to stay warm is by using blankets and warm clothing, keep extras in your car for emergencies. If necessary, you can also run your vehicle for short periods of time to provide heat. However, you need to be aware of the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning. Always make sure that there is no snow blocking the tailpipe. Additionally, crack your windows to allow fresh air to get inside.

It doesn't matter how experienced you are behind the wheel. Winter road conditions can be dangerous for everyone. You need to drive cautiously, being aware of your surroundings at all times, and be prepared if you find yourself on the side of the road. This usually means driving slower than usual and keeping your eyes on the road. You should also stay up-to-date with the latest weather predictions so that you know what to expect. If you are going to an area where your cell phone won't work, make sure that someone knows where you are going to be. This will help emergency roadside personnel find you more quickly in case you get stuck along the way.

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