Tips for Winter Driving Safety
For most parts of the country, harsh winter weather has already blown through and more will be coming. Here are some winter driving safety tips to help ensure that both you and your drivers stay safe on the road this winter.
Check Your Tires
While you should be regularly monitoring the state of your vehicle’s tires, it becomes especially important to do so in those cold winter months. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration: “As the outside temperature drops, so does tire inflation pressure. Make sure each tire is filled to the vehicle manufacturer’s recommended inflation pressure…Be sure to check tires when they are cold, which means the car hasn’t been driven for at least three hours.” The NHTSA also recommends that “If you plan to use snow tires, have them installed in the fall so you are prepared before it snows.”
Properly Remove Snow and Ice from Your Vehicle
For those of us without the luxury of a garage, winter means breaking out the shovels and brushes to remove the fresh powder and ice that accumulates on our vehicles. But improper removal can not only damage your vehicle, but create a hazard for others. Here are a few tips from the editorial staff of Cars.com to ensure that you’re safely clearing your vehicle.
- “A warm car always helps loosen the stuff off the hood and windows. Before you start clearing snow, start the car and turn on the defrosters — but take care to ensure the doors are unlocked and the tailpipe is unobstructed by a snowbank.” Kelsey Mays, consumer affairs editor
- “Make sure you clear all of the big piles of snow off your car, so you don’t become a moving cloud of snow spray and blind other drivers around you.” Patrick Olsen, editor-in-chief
- “Paint protection. A good wax or sealant to protect the paint from brushes and brooms people may use to clear snow. There’s also de-icer spray for the glass.” Joe Bruzek, road-test editor
Create an Emergency Kit
Emergencies can arise at any time, but they can be especially dangerous during harsh winter weather. For that reason, Consumer Reports advises that you create an emergency kit for your vehicle. Their recommended kit consists of the following:
- Cell phone – “Also pack a car charger because areas with weak reception can kill your battery quickly.”
- First-aid kit – “Many new cars have one; if your car doesn’t, make your own with bandages, gauzpads, medical tape, and antiseptic wipes.”
- Warning light, hazard triangle, or flares – “Make sure that flares are kept dry and out of the reach of children and that they have not expired.”
- Water and foods with a long shelf life – “Think granola and protein bars, which can last through the winter months.”
- Tire jack and lug wrench, tire sealant, or portable compressor – “Whether you have a spare or not (many new cars don’t), know how to fix or change a flat before it happens.”
- Flashlight – “Check it monthly to make sure it’s still working, and pack an extra set of batteries.”
- Tubes of sand – “You can find these at hardware stores in the winter. Spread the sand around your tires for extra grip if you are stuck in the snow.”
- Jumper cables or a portable battery booster – “Make sure to top off and check the charge on battery booster packs every so often.”
- Foil-lined safety blanket and extra layers of clothing – “The blanket’s foil helps reflect body heat, keeping you warmer. Also pack winter boots and socks.”
Monitor the Weather
This should almost go without saying, but unless you have absolutely no choice, try to avoid going out on the roads during a winter storm. It’s by far the safest choice you can make. However, if travel is absolutely necessary, Traveler’s Insurance advises that: “If you plan to travel when inclement weather looms, monitor road and weather conditions by checking local news stations or Internet traffic and weather sites. You can sign up for weather alerts to receive text messages and optional alerts for your area. Do not check your phone while driving, and avoid all unnecessary distractions when you’re behind the wheel.”
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