The holidays are nearly upon us, and the roads will be busy and full. People will be traveling to visit friends and family across the country this time of year. It is a time for getting together and celebrating, but it is also a time that can be dangerous. Because of the weather and the increased traffic, the holiday season always shows a peak number of traffic incidents. It is important to be educated on winter driving and ensure you reach your loved ones safely.
Although the holidays create more traffic on the roads, this is far from the only danger that is presented to drivers this time of year. The road conditions created by winter weather can cause dangerous situations all through the season. It is even more dangerous because so many drivers are not aware of proper driving techniques for this weather.
Driving in winter weather is not like driving during the rest of the year. Snow, sleet, icy roads, and other conditions create circumstances that many drivers are unprepared for. While the best option is to avoid excessive traveling during these situations, we know that would be an unrealistic expectation for everyone. Many people will still hazard the roads for various reasons, even in the worst of conditions.
So in order to help make this a safer time of year, we have developed this article with some winter driving tips. We have the hopes that through education and understanding, lives can be saved that would otherwise be lost. Even aside from fatal accidents, winter conditions cause traffic incidents that can result in injury and thousands in damage. Taking all this into consideration, we will go through some common techniques that will help you travel safely and help you deal with some incidents that occur during this time of year.
Basic Winter Driving Tips
Here are a few simple things that should be kept before and as you drive in winter weather. Many of these concepts are universal and should be implemented year round. Some may seem like common sense, but still some people may be unaware of something simple that could help keep them safe.
- Clear any snow and ice off of your car before leaving on your trip.
- Make sure your washer fluid is full and that you have properly functioning wipers with working wiper blades.
- Keep your headlights on at all times. This will improve your own visibility as well as your visibility to others.
- Keep your tires properly inflated
- Keep your gas tank at least half full. This is especially important before embarking on a trip in hazardous conditions such as a snow storm.
- Do not run your vehicle in a garage or other enclosed area. Many people make this mistake to warm up a car, but the fumes can be deadly.
- Avoid the use of your parking brake during cold, snowy or rainy weather.
- Do not use the cruise control in your vehicle when driving on any slippery road.
- Be especially cautious on bridges, overpasses and other areas that are more likely to freeze over in cold weather.
- Do not drive while you are tired. Fatigued driving is one of the leading causes of accidents year-round, and the conditions of winter greatly increase the risks. Make sure you get plenty of rest before you get out in winter weather.
- Do not text or check weather updates on your phone while driving.
- ALWAYS fasten your seatbelt upon entering your vehicle.
Tips for Long-Distance Winter Travel
The tips listed above are important for winter driving, no matter how short the trip. For longer distance drives that are so common this time of year, there are some more specific things to keep in mind.
- Keep up with news and weather reports in the days and hours before making your trip. If there are hazardous reports, delay your trip if possible.
- If you are forced to travel in bad weather, be sure you let others know about your destination, the route on which you will travel and how long the trip is expected to take.
- Have your vehicle inspected by a trusted, professional auto mechanic before embarking upon any long road trip.
- Make sure to take a cell phone and emergency kit in case of an incident. You winter emergency kit should include:
- An ice scraper
- A snow shovel
- Sand or salt for thawing snow/ice
- Gloves and hats
- Food and water
- Take your time and drive slowly. Keep in mind that speed limits are intended for dry roads in normal weather.
- If you become fatigued, find a safe place to stop and rest. Do not overexert yourself and create unnecessary risks.
- Know your brakes and how to properly use them in hazardous conditions. Most modern vehicles have anti-lock brakes (ABS), and these will function much differently than cars without ABS. Consult your owner’s manual and educate yourself on how to properly operate the brakes in your vehicle.
- If the weather is bad, just stay home. Waiting for inclement weather to pass may change your plans, but it could also save your life. If you absolutely have to travel in bad weather, make sure you are prepared by taking all the precautions listed in this article.
Now, of course, our wish is for everyone to stay safe this winter. But accidents are going to happen. If damage to your vehicle is part of your story this winter, then come see us. We take the stress away from the entire process by becoming your advocate. We work for you. Don’t call Mom, Dad, or the insurance company. Call Alexander at 330-376-8105